Sunday, March 4, 2018

Book review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Not a fancy picture because I read the ebook version!  Pardon it, please.  But still a beautiful cover!

This week, I read Kristy Cambron’s fourth book, one that is more mystery than she normally writes—exactly what I always like to hear, with my love for mysterious doings in stories!  I gave it four stars. Here’s the review I posted on Goodreads:

I tried to start this a couple times a few months ago and never got past the first chapter or two.  Thanks to a group read, I dove in and soon found myself entirely absorbed.  Then I had the opposite problem of being unable to lay the book down at all!

The mystery of Peale and his double death soon morphs into a bigger mystery of who is calling the shots in a very literal sense.  I enjoyed the atmosphere of the Prohibition years and the unique character Wren is.  Add to that Elliot and his fascination with Wren and her art of illusion, and we have all the elements for a good tale.  The story has several shocker twists that left my mouth ajar.

I didn't care for the lack of specification about what a seance could do (for those who don't know, it is a summons of demons) was rather chuckled as a materialistic fraud, but the portion of the story that dealt with actual spiritualism was somewhat dismissed as being unreal.  Spiritualism as a sort of religion wasn't mentioned or defined beyond using the word to describe characters and to mention seances to contact the dead as a mainstay of their philosophy.  Wren and Elliot speak of faith and prayer and make a few comments about "only one man ever rose" as an oblique reference to Christ (which isn't truth anyway, since they are talking of people being summoned from death—Jesus was different because He had the power to raise up from the dead without being summoned—He Himself restored many, including Lazarus, Jairus's daughter, the widow's son, and the saints at His death).  In a story so full of spiritual cloak-and-dagger, I missed Jesus.  I needed to see that clear ending conclusion that the Jesus way was the ultimate answer to the claims of the spiritualists.

Also, several phrases were too modern for the twenties...most notably "gone missing," a 1990s term used more than once.  "Alright" used for "all right" also bugged me.

But, overall, a beautifully written book that is worth a read and very hard to put down!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free copy for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book review: The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

I must say, I have read every Sarah Sundin book to date and was eagerly awaiting this release.  The only downside?  Now I have to wait until next year for Adler's story!  Here's the glowing five-star review I posted on Goodreads.

Oh, what a delightful read!  I won't deny that I didn't wish to slap Dorothy a few times for her na├»ve attitude toward the guy who had too many women in his life, but even then the character roused some caring attitude in me.  She believed his words because she wanted to believe them, and she didn't want to believe the opposite.  And, given that she had staked every hope in her battered life on what he said was true, I can even forgive her the willful blindness.  Not saying it was right to accept his kisses when she knew she wasn't the only girl getting them, though!

I did love her work and found it very interesting.  The whole idea of making a map for the invasion based on pictures was something I wasn't aware of and was fascinating.  

Wyatt was a neat hero.  His good humor and his strong faith put me on his side right away, and it was a delight to watch him encourage all the best qualities in Dorothy.  He's determined to be a man of honor, and when Dorothy challenges him on things like his decision not to contact family, he's humble about it.  

The plot...oh, my!  There were a couple of epic twists that had me on the edge of my seat.  Who knew a little poking after an embezzler could lead to such a discovery?  Whew!  

Highly recommended, especially to lovers of WW2.

Thanks to Revell for a free review copy.  A positive review was not required.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book review: Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Ah, happy sigh!  This is one of the books that I have to digest before I can manage to review it.  The cover is gorgeous, but the story inside just as much so.  I knew I would love it, since it's Kim Vogel Sawyer, and each phase of the story was like unfolding a new leaf of enjoyment.

It's impossible to be tempted to peek ahead because the plot twists around on itself so many times, which is right up my alley.  I love having books surprise me with unexpected occurrences! No great predictability in this story, excepting only that the hero and heroine are going to end up being interested in each other.  

I loved the original twist on the matchmaker story!  A bride who's been returned to the agency more than once and gets reassigned to assistant and etiquette coach.  But do we see a prissy etiquette story?  Ah, no!  That's not all there is to it, because...Twists.  Indeed.  All the way from sunburn to kidnapping.  

One of my favorite things was the deep spiritual lessons.  I've heard the topic as naseum in other CF books, but this approach is fresh and engaging and feels authentic.  

Content/language: Nothing objectionable.  Could be given safely to ages 14/15 

Thanks to Blogging for Books for a free review copy.  A positive review was not required.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I Survived doggie pics

Well, I made it for another year of National Novel Writing Month madness!  In case you don't know what that is, it's when novelists around the world attempt to write 50,000 words in only thirty days each November.  

Of course, I was nuts enough to adopt puppies the same month!  This definitely reduced my writing time.  But puppy cuddles are so therapeutic!  And just look at those faces.  Forgive me while I show off my dog family.  :)
This is Chester.  He loves to play with leaves and is going to be a big pup when he is grown!  The breeder says 60-75 pounds.  He's a standard size golden doodle, a "breed" I have been wanting for awhile now.  Don't you love those golden eyebrows?

This is Bernie.  It's hard to snap a picture of his face, since he prefers to eat the phone!  He has the cutest little white chin as though he dipped it in milk.  I didn't plan to pick another pup, but when I went to meet Chester and saw some of the other pups, he stole my heart.  He is a medium size Bernedoodle (Bernese mountain dog and poodle) and is very intelligent.  Yes, he is sitting in his toy box; he loves to knock the toys out and crawl in!

Mia is my senior rescue dog and the biggest cuddler you could imagine.  This is her pose of choice when I sit on my sofa to read or write!  She does hate to be away from people, so when I am home she is right there by my side.  She's been great with the puppies.

So, there is my November recap!  Stay tuned for some snippets of my writing progress, which will post tomorrow.

Book review: A Dangerous Legacy

Along with having one of the prettiest covers of the year, this one is one of my favorite Camden has ever written.  I gave it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.  Here is what I said in my review on Goodreads:

I definitely enjoyed this tale of New York, reporters, Morse Code, and danger.  It came in the mail today, and I was glad to dive right in.  I intended to read a single chapter and get back to the other book I'm reading, but the story grabbed me from the beginning.  

Lucy is likable from the start, and it's easy to identify with her longing to find justice and to shake off her uncle's stalkers, who are content to spy on her life and keep her and her brother from realizing their full potential in life.  From there the story moves swiftly, as she encounters Sir Colin Beckwith and as he stumbles across her family's nasty history.  With Colin's eyes fresh on the family secrets, Lucy and Colin quickly realize that much more is going on in the family than she first imagined.  In other words, the Saratoga Drakes aren't scrupulous about crushing more than family, if others get in the way of their plans.

Before long, Colin is mixed into the issue, despite his being an unlikely ally.  After all, he's a reporter at heart, and the draw of a good story is hard to resist.

It fell just shy of five stars for me, but makes four (very good) easily.  It's Camden's best in years (since Beyond All Dreams, in my opinion)—well-researched, detailed history, and two lead characters with clear chemistry.  (Their banter is excellent.  Brings to mind classic movies like Desk Set and His Girl Friday...)

Things that helped shy away from an "excellent" rating: 
-An "oh my heavens" exclamation
-"Hear, hear" misspelled as "here, here" (pet peeve)
-Woman referred to as "hero" 1903, she'd be offended.  She's a heroine.
-Content.  Lucy entered a situation that requires a forced bathing (not something she was expecting ahead of time).  For me, it got a bit too far into her feelings as the two women scrubbed her down.  It's only a paragraph, but I'm intensely visual and didn't want to have that image.

It's also MUCH better edited than the last two releases, and the words flow with a lot more authenticity.  Definitely worth a read!

Thanks to the publisher for a free review copy.  A positive review is not required.

...This is the first book I got through Bethany House Publishing's blogger reviewer program.  I was so excited to have this copy come in the mail!  Be watching for more Bethany House new release reviews here in the near future.  

Has anyone else read Elizabeth Camden's work?  Do you have a favorite of her books?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book review: Many Sparrows

About a month ago, I got my hands on a copy of Lori Benton’s newest book, Many Sparrows, through the Blogging for Books program.  I was so excited to come home after a long day at work and find the package on the doorstep!  I opened it up and dove right in, then read it all at once.  Too bad I was too busy to post here right away, but here’s a picture of the cover and a copy of my review from Goodreads:

This sucked me right in, from the shocking and absorbing first page all the way to the meaningful, excellent ending!  I found it on my doorstep when I got home at about 5:30, and I finished it at about 12:30 am.  I simply couldn't put it down!

I felt for Clare, so much.  She's already breaking, with her husband's insistence on dragging his family deeper into Indian territory as tenuous peace crumbles, and as she is weeks away from giving birth.  Is it any wonder that she shatters when her husband doesn't return, her son vanishes, and she goes into labor in the midst of trying to find her son?  She tries so hard to be strong, but underneath her drive of pushing herself to find her boy is a deeply broken heart.

Then there was Jeremiah Ring, caught between two cultures, longing to have his Cherokee friends and family understand and accept God's love.  His adopted brothers are true brothers to him in the best sense of the word; how can he turn his back and join in the fight against them?  Yet how could he dream of fighting against Viriginians?  His adopted sister has turned her back on God after tragedy, and he hopes and prays for her return to faith.

The Christian message in this book is so strong.  I loved the point that was made that Rain Crow (the sister) participating in ceremonial dances was an indication that she was trusting the gods of the Indians rather than the Almighty.  (As much as I'd have liked to dislike/view her as a villain because of an action she takes in the story, I loved Rain Crow anyway and wanted her heart to change.)  It's got more in it than forgiveness...there's also trust and learning to wait on God for the right timing.

There's just so much to love about the beautiful, atmospheric writing, and the talent that takes you right to the scene.  Loved it!

Content: 18+ for frank talk of nursing and Indian habits and a dramatic birth scene.

Thanks to the publisher for a free review copy.  A favorable review was not required.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: The Road to Paradise

This week I have another book to share.  This one is a pretty unique tale: a story about park rangers in 1927 at Mount Rainer.  If you like the outdoors, this is a must-read!  The second book in the series is already on my list.

Here's my review:

4.5 stars
A delightful story about a young woman and a man from vastly different backgrounds.  Margie was gently raised among the best of society; Ford grew up in the wilderness.  When Margie wants to escape society and become a forest ranger, exercising her favorite pursuits as a naturalist, she joins Ford's staff.  He feels the need to look after her, since she's their first woman on staff and has a habit, annoying to him, of looking at nature with awe and wonder and joy rather than with respect of its meaner sides.

I think what I liked best about Margie was her pluck and her faith.  She might not like what she comes across at times, and she might feel like giving up, but she doesn't melt into a puddle and stop going.  She's the sort of person I would like to meet in real life.

Ford was struggling with the grief of losing his father recently, and he had loads of emotional baggage to work through.  Only problem is, he's running away from God as well, so he has no reliable way to find comfort and closure after the accident that took his father's life.  He's a strong man, a good ranger, and a gentleman—but he's not at peace with the world.

Favorite side characters were Luke and Mrs. Brown!  And the antagonist proves himself worthy of the role.

I received a free review copy from the Blogging for Books program.