Tag Archives: books

Hunted by Meagan Spooner Review

26 Jul

If you’ve been around SGL for a while, you probably know that I really enjoy a good retelling of fairy tales ( I’ll link some of my reviews of retellings at the bottom of this post). My friend and I found this book at Powell’s bookstore and I immediately said ‘we’ve got to get this’. I mean, look at that gorgeous cover! And when you read the synopsis, I’m sure you’ll understand why I was instantly hooked.

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I’ve never read Meagan Spooner before but I’m now eager to try more of her books. I know, of course that sometimes, there’s just one book that I’ll love of an author. I really liked the different twists given on this timeless tale of Beauty and the Beast. It’s been weeks since I finished it and I’m still thinking about it. Which means I’m likely to pick this up again soon. Yes. It really was that good.

I’m going to pull the synopsis straight from the back of the book for you:

“Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones – and in her blood. 

Here in the wilderness Yeva is under no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas… or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. Here she feels one with the ebb and flow of life. Here she is home. 

But when Yeva’s father goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey : the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sister’s protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory – a cursed valley, a ruined castle and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation.”

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Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest—and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. she reminds us of what we used to be. She reminds us of what we could be.”

“She was so tired after all. Tired of fairy tales, and magic, and empty castles. Tired of wanting so intensely that she didn’t know what she wanted.”

“The satisfaction of desires sated was short and pale in comparison to the dream of wanting.”

Getting little snippets from the Beast’s side added so much to the tale, and gave us a chance to see the Beast more fully than just a selfish man having to pay a heavy price until someone comes to, basically, rescue him. His story is just as important as Beauty’s and getting to read his feelings about his transformation, about Beauty and…well, all of it, was great.

I appreciated the moral lesson that Spooner wove through the tale. She also seems to have taken inspiration from classic fairy tales that were darker and … well, more full of death. But she did it well. There isn’t any overly done, gross scenes in regard to hunting – there are descriptions of course but Spooner doesn’t get graphic with the telling.

There isn’t any sex scenes- thank you so much for that Meagan! – I appreciate a YA novel that has a good romance story without feeling the need to go to that level.

I did feel that this book could have been longer. It might have been a bit slow in pace (not that I minded) but I did feel that just all of a sudden you were at the ending. I’d have liked either a better balance or the book just enough longer that I wasn’t left going (near the end) with a – ‘wait, what?’

Thankfully, this wasn’t enough to ruin the book for me, I’m able to overlook it because she showed us a strong character in Beauty with enviable hunting skills ; a beautiful world set in old Russia ; a Beast that’s trying and Beauty’s sisters were fully rounded characters that, honestly, I’d love to read more of. I’ll add that the book didn’t end where I was going ‘wait, what?’ and that helped a lot, I think. She finished out the story a bit, leaving that bitter taste a bit diluted.

I’ve read that she’s working on a novel titled “Sherwood” and you can bet that I’m going to be reading that one. This novel has definitely made it to my favorite reads for this year. And, if you’re interested, here’s a few other retellings that I’ve read and loved over the years.

Wildwood Dancing  by Juliet Marillier

Beauty by Robin Mckinley

Spindle’s End by Robin Mckinley

~Laura

Do you love retellings? Have any favorites? I’d absolutely love to hear about them!

 

June 2019 Book Reviews

3 Jul

I read such different styles of book this past month that I hope you find something to add to your To-Read list!

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Photo by Claudia on Unsplash

~While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.~

 

Lord of Chaos (book 6 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan – Two different Aes Sedai embassies prepare to travel to meet with Rand Al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn. Morgase finds herself an ally but it’s not one that she expected, or wanted. Mat continues to follow Rand’s outlandish plan. Perrin Aybara, Lord of the Two Rivers, feels the pull of ta’averen and prepares to march.

~Jordan was a genius at weaving together so many different story lines. When I start one of these books, I’m a bit overwhelmed but they suck me in every single time. I admit I still count Perrin as one of my favorites. I have enjoyed seeing Morgase’s story take a different turn than I was expecting -and that of her sons’. All in all, this took me about a month to finish (I kept picking up lighter novels) but as soon as I picked it up I was instantly transported back to their world and would have a hard time putting it down. 

The Binnies and the Dogs and Cats from Everywhere by Jo Ann Stover – The Binnie family tries several things to deal with so many dogs and cats. One of those ways is by moving all of their furniture outside so the cats and dogs can enjoy living in the house.

~I picked this book up at the library’s book sale because I just could not resist the title, nor the drawings throughout. It was a fun, silly story with a good deal of heart. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to passing it on to some of my nephews (and niece).

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen – Sophie Dupont has been assisting in her father’s studio for years, a shop that is popular with artists as it is near the north Devon coast. When a handsome artist, Wesley Overtree arrives and compliments her not only on her beauty but on her painting as well, Sophie falls hard for him. When he disappears, leaving her in a difficult position, she’s not sure what she’ll do. But then his brother, Captain Stephen Overtree arrives, looking for Wesley to take him home. Finding instead, a young woman suffering from his brother’s recklessness, Stephen offers to marry her in name only. Sophie must decide if she’ll wait for the uncertain chance that Wesley will return or if she’ll trust her future to his brooding brother.

~Finding this at a used bookstore was one of the best things. Seriously. If you’ve been following SGL the past few months, you’ll know that I’ve fallen in love with Klassen’s stories. This one did not disappoint in the least. Because of the subject matter, it was a little more…personal than others of hers. But she wrote it well, touching on the topic without being vulgar. I loved both Sophie’s and Stephen’s struggles throughout. And the other twists and turns throughout meant that I was pleasantly surprised at the end. I highly recommend this novel, although not for a younger audience. Also, this one has gone onto my ‘favorites of the year’ list. 

Bittersweet (California Historical #2) by Cathy Marie Hake – After years of being in love with Galen O’Sullivan, Laney McCain is sure that now is finally the time that he’ll notice the woman she’s become. But squatters on his land divert him. Young Ishmael and Ivy Grubb are uneducated but Galen allows them to stay on, paying them for help around the farm. But he’ll soon have cause to regret his generosity, as will Laney.

~My review on Letter Perfect, the first book of this short series is here.  Sadly, these are the only two! Anyway, I loved getting to read more about the McCain family. And reading more of the O’Sullivan family as well. I just really enjoy reading about families that are close knit through faith and intentionality. Hake crafts a well-written tale with unexpected twists that keep you gasping and guessing. I enjoy these as they are full of faith, but also because they are just plain fun to read (like the Klassen books!). I definitely recommend this one to lovers of historical fiction. There are mentions of intimacy and a young girl being in a compromising situation against her will (if you get my drift) but it’s carefully worded and not gone into. Which, if such a thing must be in a story, that’s how I like/need it to be. 

Raven Flight (book #2 of Shadowfell series) by Juliet Marillier – Having reached Shadowfell, Neryn can finally rest. But too soon she learns that she must leave her new rebel friends and seek out each of the four Guardians to learn how to be a Caller. In order to learn how to use her canny gift to call the Good Folk to help them in their battle against Keldec.

~Click here to read the series review (this is one of my FAVORITE series you guys.)

Hunted by Meagan Spooner – watch for a separate review, you don’t want to miss it!!!

I also started Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier but there were some things in it that I’m not a fan of. I’ve put it down and am honestly not sure if I’ll even pick it up again.

 

Currently Reading:

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

The Secrets of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

The Mountain Valley War by Louis L’amour (audiobook)

 

To-Read:

The Human Superorganism by Rodney Dietert, PhD

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Diamond of the Rockies series by Kristen Heitzmann

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

 

War Torn Heart Book Review

18 Jun

I have another book review for you today! There’s something fun about just reviewing one book in a post. I’m able to expand on what I thought of it, which obviously, talking about books is one of my favorite things.

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War Torn Heart by Allison Wells is set in South Carolina as the rumors of war are starting. Abigail Walker is sixteen and set to enjoy her last summer as more a girl than young woman but then she meets Harvey Nicholas. As a cadet at Celmson College, he’s as far from her world as he could be. But sparks fly and Abigail happily spends her free time with Harvey. As summer progresses, they fall in love.

When the rumors, and then the reality of war, reaches their quiet small town, Abigail is worried that Harvey and her brother are going to go running off into it. And when Pearl Harbor is bombed, that’s exactly what happens. Both young men are eager to protect their loved ones.

Neither of them are prepared for the tragedy and cost of what the war will bring. It will test their love, loyalty and faith. If they let it, they will grow to be men and women of faith and endurance.

But will Abigail be able to hold onto what she knows is right and true in the midst of it all?

~I was so excited about this book. Plus, I mean, look at that cover. Go ahead. Scroll back up and look at it. I’ll wait. Isn’t it just perfection? I love when a cover just hits the nail on the head. I’d never read anything by Wells before, so like I said, I was excited to dive into this war-time coming of age story. 

I did end up enjoying this book, I want to start with that, okay? There were some places in the story that just dragged too much or I felt that the story line was rushed where I would have loved to have more details. I greatly enjoyed seeing Abigail grow up through the trials. She went from a young woman of girl-ish beliefs to a woman that had been through struggles and come out knowing who she was in her faith. The heartbreak in the book was – so- heartbreaking – it – hurt. There were twists and turns that I was impressed with. While the ending did seem a bit abrupt, it was sweet. 

There were some things I didn’t like about it, but mostly they are more of a personal problem that I have when they are in ANY book. The statements that most any young girl will make/think but that, as they grow, they realize just aren’t true. Statements about God, mostly. I would have loved to see Wells work in the fact that Abigail learned how incorrect her assumptions in those areas were.  

Like I started out with, I did end up enjoying this book. Will I read it again? It’s a mix of maybe and probably. It was a sweet story overall and the setting of the war is one that I don’t read a lot of. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers unless an adult has pre-read it for them because there is some mild content that was a bit more than I can recommend for young readers. As well as some aspects of their relationship that while it is real-life accurate, can come across as completely acceptable. (which clearly, I don’t think is.)

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

~Laura

*I did receive this free for my personal opinion and review from Ambassador International*

May 2019 Book Review

4 Jun

Now, if you’re wondering by my picture — if I really only read three books in May, no, I read more than that. Double that – plus a few I’m still reading – actually. But, some are part of a series, and one you have to wait a little longer for! You’ll be able to tell that I started and am actually still in, a genre read. It’s been fun pairing light, historical fiction novels with the meatier, slower read of Robert Jordan.

~While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.~

Let’s get to it, shall we?

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The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander – Accepting her cousin’s invitation to join them in Colorado was an easy decision, but McKenna Ashford’s real reason lay in the haughty attitude of her younger brother. She is determined to get them a fresh start and hopefully, tame his ever growing wild streak. But life in Copper Creek isn’t what she thought it would be. The responsibilities of an unexpected inheritance threaten her resolve to be independent while offering an second chance, if only she can keep it.  U.S. Marshall Wyatt Caradon never expected to be drawn into such a heartbreaking situation – but something about McKenna pulls him back to Copper Creeek and makes him think of leaving behind his years of living on the trail. Can they both trust again though?

~I don’t know why it took me so long to pull this off of my TBR shelf but it quickly shot up to my historical-fiction-favorites list. It is no secret I enjoy this genre, especially when it’s western-based. But Alexander delivered such a refreshing story – filled with obstacles, tender moments, sweet friendships all with a realism that I appreciated. The morals/life lessons within add depth to the story, helping lend weight to the full plot and well-rounded characters. There really can’t be enough good said about this book! I’m already ready to read it again, honestly. (I can’t though, I’ve far too large of a TBR pile) I highly recommend this heart-wrenching-and-warming novel. 

Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters – When Sonja Parker receives an inheritance from her grandmother, she buys a popular coffee shop in a small town in Wisconsin’s Door County. She eagerly leaves behind her disappointing city life and settles into the new one of business owner and coffee maker. But she quickly learns that there’s more to owning a business than serving up a good cup of coffee – repairs must be made to the building, and to her heart.  Can she make a go of this new business? And can she find her way back to the God that she’s left behind?

~I received this free in exchange for my honest review and I have to tell you, right now, it’s not a great review. I didn’t connect with Libby at all (her actions/thoughts felt more in line with someone much younger). I made it halfway through the book before giving up on it. And that took at least two weeks to get that far on it. BUT! I’m passing it on to my mom to read and then I intend on giving it another shot. 

Letter Perfect  (California Historical #1) by Cathy Marie Hake – Ruth Caldwell has tried hard to live up to the expectations of her mother. But no matter how hard she tries, she always ends up doing or saying just what she shouldn’t. And she unknowingly steps into another scrape when she travels out to the Broken P Ranch. Josh McCain is stunned to learn that Ruth has a legitimate claim to the ranch, the one he was all set to inherit. His future at the ranch suddenly precarious and as ‘accidents’ around this green-eyed beauty turn sinister, Josh has to decide just who he trusts- and loves.

~Hake is now officially one of my favorite authors in her genre. Of course, I’ve read books by her before but this (and the Gooding series below) have cemented her place in the Favorites category. This is a great first book in the series, although it’s a great stand alone novel. I liked Ruth’s inclination to pitch in and help (even if things don’t necessarily go as planned) and how she gets creative to meet her goals. Even though she doesn’t fit in the mold that society has cast her in, she still is herself. The twists this story took were so unexpected that I kept gasping in surprise and shock! I enjoyed getting to know Gavin O’Sullivan and his family as well (he’s a main character in the second book -review next month!). You definitely should read this one if you are in the mood for a make you laugh and cry faith based novel. 

Serendipity (Only in Gooding #5) and That Certain Spark (#4) by Cathy Marie Hake – Apparently I’m reading this series back to front. But I’m okay with that as I’ve read all of them before. You’ll get a series review when I’m done with them. Trust me though, This series is just as much fun as you hope for.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier – click here for a full review of one of my favorite series! I have to add that I showed considerable restraint by only grabbing the first book from the library but when I went back with the intent to get the second one, it wasn’t there! It was probably for the best though, as I am still making my way through Lord of Chaos…

War Torn Heart by Allison Wells- Click here for a separate review!

 

Currently Reading:

Lord of Chaos (book 6 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Write by Karen E. Peterson, Phd

The Binnies and the Dogs and Cats from Everywhere by Jo Ann Stover

 

To Read:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

and 3 Cathy Marie Hake books I just got from the library =)

As you can see, this has definitely been a month of reading for me! What have you been reading lately?

~Laura

Book Reviews -April 2019

15 May

I can’t believe I’m finally getting this review up. There were just too many good books to share with you from last month to forgo doing this monthly review. I’ve been making it a point – once again – to read more instead of scrolling on my phone or watching Netflix. These 7 books are the result!

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(I know, I know, there are only 5 pictured here, but my dad is borrowing Sons and Soldiers and Fires of Heaven had to go back to the library… what’s a girl to do?)

The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley- When Harry Crewe struggles to settle into the sedate world of the Homelanders, she has no idea that a chance meeting with Corlath, the king of the Hillfolk, will change her life forever.  Check out my full review here 

A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke- Ariana’s life is turned upside down when two rough-looking men take her hostage from the one-room schoolhouse she teaches at. With no explanation, they bundle her through the snowy mountain passes to their hideout. Her fear increases when the boss’s son is set to guard her. Will she ever see her adopted parents again? Will she have the chance to wear her mother’s wedding dress?

~I’m sure I squealed in delight when I found this recently at a used bookstore. I’m not sure what happened to my original copy, so I snatched this up quick. I am a big Oke fan and this is one of my favorites of hers. She didn’t write many westerns (in fact, this might be her only one). I enjoyed the twists and turns in this story, some that even though I’ve read it many times over the years (it’s been several years since I’ve read it last though), I was still surprised by them. Ariana’s faith is well-written through her captivity, which is so important to me. I highly recommend this novel for younger readers on up.

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A Falcon For a Queen by Catherine Gaskin – Suddenly an orphan, Kirsty Howard leaves her home in China and travels to Scotland to visit her grandfather. His home of Cluian is a strange one, utterly different from what she’s used to. Secrets abound in the old house, kept in place by the arrogance of the lonely old man and the two women who run his house. But being the site of one of the world’s finest whiskey distilleries, gives Kirsty an opportunity to carve her own place in the Highlands.

~I was given this book (published 1972) last year and finally decided I just had to read it. I’d never read anything by Gaskin before but now I intend to read a few more. It was intriguing, unexpected and enjoyable. Yes, there was far too much information about distilling whiskey. But in the context of their livelihood, it made sense, you know? It was a rather dry topic though, one that I tended to skip through, to get to the actual story. The STORY though. Sigh of happiness. I had the ending figured all wrong, but readily admit that it was far better, and more satisfying than I had come up with. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers as it is a darker, aka ‘gothic’ novel. There are only innuendos of a scandalous nature, but Gaskin kept it clean even in that. I fully intend to read it again. If you want a book that will surprise you (and you’re willing to sift through the whiskey aspect), find a copy of this book.

Heart of Wilderness by Janette Oke –  After days of anguished travel, George McMannus arrives to decide what to do with his only grandchild who is suddenly an orphan. He’s not sure just what to do with three year old Kendra Marty, after all, the life of a trapper up in the wilderness isn’t the best place to raise a child. But their hearts connect quickly and George knows that he has to try. He and his granddaughter belong together.

~I hadn’t read this book in years but I fondly remembered it. The fun thing about coming back to books you read as a young teen – early twenties is the different perspective you now have when you read them. Reading of the tragedy that brought young Kendra and ‘Papa Mac’ (as she calls him) together, and better realizing the struggle that he had in caring for her, etc etc through the years. As usual, the faith aspect was well done and both their development was good. I love Oke’s work as it’s a light read but still pulls you into the world and shares nuggets of truth. Highly recommend for teen readers on up.

Sons and Soldiers : The Untold Story of the Jews who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson – This is the story of the German Jews who escaped Germany in the 1930s, grew up in the U.S., joined the Army and became an elite group called the Ritchie Boys.  They were specially trained in interrogation techniques and used their boyhood knowledge of Germany’s language and customs. In small groups, the Ritchie Boys were sent with each major combat unit in Europe, gathering crucial intelligence and interrogating prisoners.

~I couldn’t get a book more different than the previous ones, could I? This one took me a while to get through, but it was written in a way that you wanted and needed to know how the boys made it through the war – and if they connected with their families again. Because of the content, I’d only recommend this for older readers.

At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald, Retold by Dan Larsen – It’s a dreary life in Victorian England but young Diamond is a ray of sunshine for those around him. When he meets the North Wind one night, he goes on an incredible adventure. She takes him over oceans, soaring over cities and even above the clouds. But his life is changed forever when she takes him to the back of the North Wind.

~This was a childhood read that I pulled out of storage after thinking about it for a few months. It was just about as delightful as I remembered, honestly. I enjoyed the lessons that young Diamond learned and the twist at the end! Sigh. I had completely forgotten about it. This is a great book for young readers, actually my edition is from the “Young Readers Christian Library”. 

The Fires of Heaven (book 5 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan – With the seals holding the Great Lord of the Dark in his prison weakening, Rand al’Thor knows he needs to strike a heavy blow at the enemy. But his plans are weakened when his allies are divided and fighting each other. Even the Aes Sedai are caught in a civil war. How can he defeat the Enemy while dealing with all of this, and struggling to maintain his sanity, his identity against the madness that’s coming?

Once again, I got completely sucked into Jordan’s elaborate world. 900 pages starts to go fast when you just can’t put it down. Watching Rand battle for his own sanity while still trying to strategize and scheme with the best of them; seeing Mat fight the pull of ta’averen, and accidentally display his own struggles to not get pulled into the past; all of the girls’ individual struggles to attain their goals —- ahhhhh. The level of plotting that just one of these novels takes has got to be unbelievable. There was a little more… sensual …context in this book that I could have done without. As usual, this is me we’re talking about. 

 

Currently Reading:

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier (yes, I’m reading it again!)

Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters

War Torn Heart by Allison Wells

Write by Karen E. Peterson, Phd

 

To Read: 

Lord of Chaos (book 6 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

 

~Laura

Love Comes Softly Series Review

9 May

This is one of those series that is very dear to my heart. I grew up reading this set of books and am currently trying to find/buy the last two books in the matching 2-in-1. Wish me luck. I’ve tried once and they sent me just a copy of book 7… Eesh. Anyway, that’s not why you’re here!

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If you’ve been around SGL for a while, you know that I enjoy Janette Oke’s books for their themes of faith, realistic trials and warm fuzzies that you end up with. I’ll share those posts with you at the end of this review.

I’ll also state very quickly that, While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers. Thankfully, as these are Oke novels, there isn’t anything to be worried about in that instance. I started reading this series when I was, oh, about 12? Is that about right, Mom? =)

The series starts out with Marty losing her husband in a terrible accident and having to make the tough decision to marry widower Clark Davis so she has a way to survive the winter. The deal he offered her was, if she’d be a mama to his young daughter, he’d pay her passage back east come spring. But, wonderfully, these two hurting people fall in love and the series follows their growing family and the celebrations and trials they go through. Times weren’t easy for these pioneers, stuck out in the middle of the prairie, far from civilization. Their sincere faith finds them with a secure foundation through all they go through – and trust me, there’s many trials that hit me in the gut as I read them!

You might recognize this from the tv series of the same name (I especially love the first one. I think they portrayed Clark perfectly.), but as with most shows, they changed the story quite a bit! So if that’s put you off of reading them, don’t worry – you don’t truly know the whole series.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I highly recommend this series for younger reader on up. It’s a touching read that will stay with you.

Other books by Janette Oke:

Seasons of the Heart

Roses for Mama

~I have to admit that I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed more of her books! I have such a stack of them that… well, this will just have to be remedied!

If you like Oke’s books, you’ll love:

Series Review – Tucker Mills Trilogy

California Pioneer Series by Elaine Schulte

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The Collection

Do you enjoy novels of the pioneers? I’m thinking more and more that I’d like to write at least one, myself. There’s something about novels set in that time, isn’t there? If you like Janette Oke, be on the lookout for more of her books being reviewed here! Also, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen on my stories that I’m currently reading two novels that will be reviewed as soon as I finish them! I think you’ll like them, I’m enjoying them so far.

~Laura

~As a side note, I just took back book 8 to the library yesterday. YESTERDAY. I’ve had it for two weeks and never thought to take a series shot until the book was gone. Sigh.~

Book Reviews for March 2019

12 Apr

This has been sitting in my drafts folder for at least two weeks. Yikes! So much for getting it written early and scheduling it for spring break, eh? But, all well, ce la vie.

I hope you find something to add to your To-Read pile! And as always, I want to remind you that: while covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

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Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer- When Will runs away from his Amish community at nineteen, he leaves behind his faith, family, and a pregnant girlfriend. Years later, he returns – with a wife and two sons, and with a very different world view. What he won’t realize for many years is that his new family and life are tainted by sins of the past. And if he ever wants to reconcile with his father, or himself, he must face those head-on.

~I have had this on my shelf for quite a few months (sorry mom) and despite having picked it up several times, I never read it. I’m pleased that I finally did though- it was a different Amish story than I normally read. Part of that was that the main character was a man, and well, just the story itself. I don’t want to spoil anything for you here, but looking back on Levi’s life with him, and seeing the present consequences of it, was heartbreaking and encouraging and just…tinged with sorrow. Cramer really pulls you in with his descriptions of the locations – the Amish countryside, the mobile home the young family lives in, the war, etc. Along with that the characters were well formed – and useful. (I have this thing about useless characters in a novel). All in all, I really enjoyed this story. I don’t know how young of an audience I would recommend for it though as it does deal with some pretty heavy stuff. As always, I suggest you read it yourself before passing it on to someone younger. A book I definitely recommend!

Amish Peace : Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Peace is something that we all strive for – each in our own way. Fisher shares the way that the Amish have found it – by focusing on five different themes of their faith, she shares stories, proverbs and interesting facts about their life. She’s also included questions and thoughts to help you find peace in your own life.

~Thanks to Beverly Lewis (and some other historical fiction authors), I have a mini love for the Amish. While I don’t agree with all of the tenets of their faith, I was still drawn in by this book. Their focus on community, forgiveness and faith is incredible. Fisher shares some great stories to move her point along. I recommend this book for anyone wanting to slow down for a few minutes and think about how they are living their lives.

The Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke  – A separate review of this series will be coming – once I finish the last two books! Suffice it to say, right now, that I adore this series.

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Praying Through Lyme Disease by Rebecca Vandemark – A compilation of prayers and verses that focus on topics that Lyme disease patients deal with daily. A daily reminder that you are not alone.

~First off, I received this book free for my honest review. I wasn’t compensated in any way. I have been following Vandemark for years now. (I’ve also reviewed December Caravan) I greatly appreciated these heartfelt prayers and corresponding scriptures touching on so many of the struggles/emotions that I, as someone who struggles with chronic Lyme, deal with on a daily basis. If you know someone, or are yourself, struggling with Lyme, don’t hesitate, get this book! I anticipate going through it again and again. Did I mention that there are pages to take notes for each prayer? Love it. 

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Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery – When his younger brother is stolen from them, Dym Ingleford promises his dying mother that he’ll never stop looking for him. That promise hasn’t been forgotten when, years later, he rather stumbles upon young Max Eckermann, a German prisoner.  Dym is convinced he’s Anthony. But the years of Nazi ideology have not been lost on the young boy, and convincing him that he’s now home, and safe, is quite the task. (first published 1944)

~Another book that I haven’t read in a few years, although now it will probably get moved to the ‘read-yearly’ list. Savery delivers a delightful, heart rending tale set WWII, which she wrote during the war. DURING THE WAR. That, for me, really made this tale come alive.  But the story itself is so good that I had a hard time putting it down. Max’s flight(s) from the White Priory (the family home), the patience of Dym and the danger of the war all join in a wonderful story. A five star book for me! 

Princess Aline by Richard Harding Davis – Falling for a picture of a Princess, a young American artist sets out across Europe to meet her. When they are finally close enough to speak, to touch, he stands, propriety-bound and too scared to offend such a creature. He does all he can to meet her properly, but will it be enough? (first published 1895)

~ I hadn’t pulled this off of my classic shelves in so many years, I only vaguely remembered it. It was delightful. It’s a light-hearted story that you just don’t want to end. It was fun to follow Carlton as he traveled across Europe, always one step behind Aline. I highly recommend this classic!

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Dear Theo by Vincent Van Gogh, edited by Irving Stone – Vincent and his brother Theo, kept up regular correspondence for years. This collection of Vincent’s letters shows how close they were; his feelings on everyday life, his family and art. (first published 1914)

~I cannot believe it took me eight months to read this book. While on the other hand, I do. It is a hard one to read in a way because he did lead such a difficult life and you already know how it ends… and in such a tragic way. (spoiler: he commits suicide). But reading in his own letters the descriptions of the places he saw – the way he saw his own art – the way he saw colors – it keeps you reaching for it again. Will I ever read it again? I don’t know. But I’m glad that I read it at least once. 

Joyful: the Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee — as I didn’t finish this book before it had to go back to the library, I’m just going to quickly say that what I did read was interesting and I have plans to one day request it again. What I didn’t like was the talk of evolution (how that has any real bearing on the talk of color and how it affects us, is beyond me – I thought the author could have handled that differently. Overall, what I read (the first 1/4 of it?) was interesting.

 

Currently Reading:

Sons And Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald

Eliza by Patricia Campbell

 

To Read:

The Fires of Heaven (book 5 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

Love Finds a Home (#8 of Love Comes Softly series) by Janette Oke

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

 

Coming up in April’s book review: 

Love Takes Wing (book 7 of Love Comes Softly series) by Janette Oke

The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley

A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke

A Falcon For a Queen by Catherine Gaskin

~I am going to say that I’ve got a few trilogy’s to read but I’m waiting until I finish at least one of the series that I’m currently in. Anyone else have this problem?! The nice side effect of that is, that I’m reaching for books that I haven’t read in quite a while (that are mainly quick-reads).

~Laura

What have you been reading?

If you missed it, go check out the Michelli Family Series Review. Also, the City of Tranquil Light Book Review  is a must read as well!

 

Michelli Family Series Review

21 Mar

This series by Kristen Heitzmann is by far the most unique christian romance suspense series that I’ve read.

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Secrets-  When Lance Michelli’s grandmother sends him on a quest to her past, he’s not sure what secrets he’ll uncover. He ends up at a Sonoma villa, recently purchased by Rese Barrett, a toughened young woman whose own secrets will sweep him away if he’s not careful. They clash as she works on fixing the place up and he tries to complete his goal for his grandmother. The unexpected attraction that springs up causes even more complication.

Unforgotten – Lance returns to New York, to his grandmother to tell her what he’s learned about that night long ago at the villa. He’s also brought Rese, who’s hiding her own secrets. But when he tells his grandmother, she won’t listen, instead sending him on another quest. This quest, however, hits closer to home, forcing Lance to choose between the two women.

Echoes – Finchè c’è vita c’è speranza” Where there’s life, there’s hope. Sofie Michelli’s world opens up again when she hears these words. Her years of living in despair and loss are at an end and she’s ready to start again. That comes in the form of the old villa that her brother Lance, and Rese, fixed up. What was once intended as an inn, has become a refuge for the hurting and downtrodden. It takes some time for Rese to adjust to the humbled version of Lance, but this new gift of healing of his leaves her with even more questions. Things get even more complicated when Child Protective Services, Matt Hammond, shows up on their doorstep to investigate the infant left unexpectedly in their care.

This series touches on faith, mental illness, physical healing and SO much more. Some of it was outside of my normal ‘read’ so while I still enjoyed each book, I feel like my favorite was the first. That’s not to say that each book didn’t impart some wisdom as the characters learned and grew. I loved reading about Matt’s journey as he gets to know the residents at the Sonoma villa and deals with his own painful past.

While this series might not be a regular read for me, I can see myself coming back to it simply to fall back in love with the characters, appreciate how Heitzmann wove such a stunning plot that keeps you reading until the last page.

I definitely recommend this series but I would suggest pre-reading it before passing it on to a younger reader. As it deals with heavier things, it might be too much for them.

~Laura

*While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

 

February 2019 Book Reviews

13 Mar

This is a short and sweet book review for February, and then in just a few weeks, there will be another (longer) one for March!

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I set myself a crazy goal – to read The Shadow Rising in just a few weeks. As it’s one thousand pages, it was a hefty goal. Thankfully I realized that I’d read the library due date for it wrong, and I actually had almost a week extra. I did it though, I finished it the night before! If it wasn’t such a great story – so engrossing – there’s no way I would have even attempted it. I read SO MUCH. By the time I finish each one of these books though, I am ready to jump right into the next one.

Also, remember, while covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

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Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #2) by Theodora Goss – Mary Jekell and the other four members of the Athena Club are enjoying a break after helping Sherlock Holmes solve the WhiteChapel murders. But then Mary receives a telegram from another monstrous girl and they set off across Europe to rescue her. And to stop the Alchemical Society’s evil experiments once and for all.

~This was a random pick-up at the library, although I didn’t realize that it was the second in a series. While it was vastly different from what I am used to, I overall enjoyed it. The story took many plot twists that I didn’t see coming, keeping me guessing as to who was on the girls’ side and who wasn’t. Goss also did something that I’ve never encountered in a novel – one of the characters was writing the story (their adventures) and occasionally, the others would interrupt her telling of it. At first, I felt like it really just stopped the story without adding anything to it but by the end, I liked the extra insights into who they were. Goss pulled off that clever bit of writing, I think. I wouldn’t recommend this to younger readers as there was quite a bit of killing, some insinuations and just overall intensity. 

Maire )Fires of Gleannamara #1) by Linda Windsor – When Maire, queen of Gleannamara, takes Rowan Ap Emrys as hostage -and husband – she doesn’t understand his ways. Or his God. Full review here.

The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time #4) by Robert Jordan- When Min once again enters the White Tower, she sees disturbing images, portending doom. In Tear, the Dragon Reborn debates his next move. The man with the golden eyes is hunted in Two Rivers. The only one who can stand against the rising of the Shadow is the Dragon Reborn. What he does next has to be something no one expects.

~I’ve already told you about my ‘speed read’ through this hefty book . The way that Jordan continues each character’s story without leaving you feeling like one or more are superfluous is incredible. I think that my favorite storyline and character is Perrin although Min’s is intriguing me as well. I can’t wait to get book 5 from the library! 

Medical Medium’s Liver Rescue by Anthony William – Unbeknown to the majority, having an overloaded liver can cause many health problems. With a practical guide and compassionate insight, William shares just how to save our livers and turn around our health

~I have a confession to make. I didn’t read very much of this at all. I hope to get it from the library again this year and read it through. 

I also realized that I haven’t reviewed the Michelli Family series by Kristen Heitzmann like I said I would! It’s on the calendar for next week now though.

Currently Reading: 

Dear Theo by Vincent Van Gogh

Joyful: the Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

Love’s Unending Legacy (Love Comes Softly #5) by Janette Oke

 

To Read:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

Diamond of the Rockies Series by Kristen Heitzmann

The Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time series #5) by Robert Jordan

 

In case you missed it, I reviewed the Sisters of Bethelehem Springs Series last month. To check out what I read in March of last year, click here!

~Laura

Sisters of Bethlehem Springs Series Review

14 Feb

I’m excited to be sharing this series by Robin Lee Hatcher with you guys today. I know I promised this review to you way back in December but it’s finally here! And it’s definitely worth the wait. Trust me. I actually heard about this series from my aunt who found it at her local library.

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A Vote of Confidence, When Gwen Arlington complains about the mayoral candidate for their small town of Bethlehem Springs, she is encouraged to run for office herself. Although she’s unsure about upsetting her cozy life as a piano teacher and writing for the local newspaper, she decides to go for it. Unknown to her, newcomer Morgan Mckinley also decides to run for mayor. The health spa that he’s trying to build has stalled and he’s decided that being mayor will help cut through all the red tape. As both Gwen and Morgan try to prove that they are the best candidate for the job, not only to the residents of the town but to each other, sparks fly. But Gwen’s fiercely protected independence and Morgan’s guarded heart may just keep them as adversaries instead of allies.

Fit to Be Tied,  Cleo Arlington isn’t your typical young woman. She can rope, ride and wrangle a horse with the best of the outfit on her father’s ranch. But in 1916, those qualities aren’t what men are looking for in a wife. Her dreams of being married and having a family of her own look grim. So when Sherwood Statham comes to their ranch, she has a hard time with his uppity attitude. This English aristocrat isn’t there in Idaho by choice, but by order of his father. Cleo and Sherwood’s every encounter leaves one or the other mad as all get out. There’s no way he’s the one she’s been waiting  for, is there?

A Matter of Character, Writing dime novels isn’t what people expect of an heiress, so Daphne Mckinley keeps her hobby to herself. But the stories are a hit and the readers keep asking for more. Daphne eagerly obliges, continuing the saga of her villian Rawhide Rick, who is loosely based off local lore. But when Joshua Crawford comes to town in search of the man who has slandered his grandfather’s good name, Daphne learns just how powerful words are. She also has to make a choice on using her gift and just what she wants her life to be.

 

This series was so much fun. I love the time period – starting in 1915 – and Hatcher describes just enough of the world that you can picture it without there being too much reminding. Know what I mean? (there really can be too much description in a book. . .) The main characters are great, although I have to admit to liking Daphne the most (although I do remember getting frustrated at her a few times…) but I suppose that’s no surprise as she’s a writer and I’m a writer.

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aren’t these covers just perfect?! I’m in love

Anyway, this series was SO much fun, my friends. I read them all so quickly and was sad when they were over! Faith was an aspect of each book, but not overly done. (there can also be too much preaching in books…)  There is something so fun about reading novels set in this time period – the newfangled contraptions of typewriters and automobiles. The dresses, gloves and hats. (happy sigh)

The twists and turns were great as well, keeping me in suspense as to just how each book would end. I highly recommend this series, from teens on up! This series is definitely on my re-read list (we all have one of those, don’t we?)

Also, I have reviewed another of Hatcher’s books, The Shepherd’s Voice. Go check it out! It’s also set in Idaho.

~Laura

 

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