Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Twelve Books of 2012 (A Year in Review)

What a year! There are so many wonderful things I could share that happened this year, but I regret to say there wouldn't be enough space and that I would hate to bore you. Though this year has been a tidal wave of ups and downs, good times and bad times, pain and healing, God has been right there with me the whole time.

I have grown so much this year. I ran a 5k. I am proud to call a new friend my best friend. I said goodbye, more times than I wanted. I started a little blog called Writings of Rosie. I met more friends online than I can count. I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. I'm another year older. I have rediscovered my passion for reading. I have learned to cling to God through the rough patches and through the smooth.

I hope your year was great and I pray 2013 will be even better for you. Thank you so much for following! I look forward to sharing about new books with you in 2013.

Now, I present to you my top 12 favorite books of 2012 (in no particular order):
  • With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
  • Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz
  • Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley
  • Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker
  • A Promise to Love by Serena Miller
  • Lethal Legacy by Irene Hannon
  • Submerged by Dani Pettrey
  • My Stubborn Heart by Becki Wade
  • Love in Disguise by Carol Cox
  • Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren
  • The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
  • Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: Christy Miller Vol. 1 by Robin Jones Gunn

My Review:
Christy Miller Volume 1 is a collection of the first three books in the Christy Miller series. I confess, I'm a little late to join the Christy fan club, but better late than never! I haven't reviewed a three-book volume before, so bear with me. (Warning, spoilers!)

What I liked about Summer Promise, the first book: Christy is a great protagonist. She's real with her struggles and teenage dreams. Miss Gunn was able to teach without sounding preachy. I loved Todd and all his whacky analogies to Christian faith. I thought it was kind of funny reading about some of the outdated technology. The thing I liked the most about this book is Christy's promise to her parents to not do anything she might regret later on. It seems to be a theme for the book and I really like that. It saves Christy from some trouble.

Christy Miller Collection, Vol. 1 (Christy Miller, #1-3)What I liked about A Whisper and a Wish: Out of the three, this was not my favorite. Maybe it was the lack of seeing the awesome characters at Newport Beach because the Miller family moved to Escondido. I felt Christy was drowning in some sort of emotional whirlpool and that didn't do much for me. One thing I did like was a verse Miss Gunn presented in Christy's Sunday school class, "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'." (1 Corinthians 15:33) It got me thinking about my life. Miss Gunn went on to make some great points using this verse. It was a highlight for me. :-)

What I liked about Yours Forever: We're back in Newport Beach! I was so happy to read about the crew from Summer Promise again. Man, this one is full of drama. Haha! Sadly for Christy, this quick Christmas break with her Aunt and Uncle doesn't quite go as planned. She is so eager to spend time with Todd and her other friends that she lets her Aunt's plans slip twice. Problems seem to pop up everywhere for Christy with no visible reason as to why. Thankfully, Miss Gunn wraps the last book with a bow.

Here are a few minor things I didn't like overall: Though this book was written a while ago, Christy's innocence made her seem more like a twelve year old than a fourteen or fifteen year old sometimes. I also did not like the so called Christians that Christy befriends in Escondido.

Whew! That was long. To quickly conclude, I will note for you that Miss Gunn's writing is fantastic. It was so easy to read, I loved it. I'll be passing this book to my twelve year old sister. :-)

I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done.

Read Chapter 1 of Summer Promise!
About Robin

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: Alone Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven

Back Cover (from Amazon): 
A miraculous survival. An extraordinary faith. Autumn 1755. 
Settled in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania, deep within America's new frontier, the Leininger family celebrates the blessings of a beautiful homestead and bountiful harvest. Until tragedy strikes with the beginning of the French-Indian War, and the devastating raid known as the Penn's Creek Massacre. The lives of this simple, God-fearing family are forever altered when Barbara and Regina, two young sisters, are carried away by a band of Allegheny warriors. Driven by their faith in God and the powerful bonds of family, Barbara and Regina hold firmly to the belief that they are never alone, even in their darkest hour, and that they will be reunited again.

Alone Yet Not Alone
My Review: 
A heartwarming quick read!

Alone Yet Not Alone is based on a true story involving the author's ancestors. These true events occur during the French-Indian war, a period in history I have not thoroughly explored. So in some ways, it felt like I was getting an enjoyable history lesson while reading.

The story follows Barbara Leininger as she and her little sister are taken into captivity. Time passes pretty frequently and I kept up with it pretty well. For some reason, I thought for sure Barbara would learn to love being with the Indians. However, my guess was far off. The question that begs to be answered throughout the novel is this: will Barbara ever see her family or her sister again?

Because the length of this book is so short, at times I felt the story seemed rushed. But that didn't take away from Barbara's amazing faith and trust in God through her time with the Indians. She was truly inspiring.

The ending was sweet and warmed my heart. I'd recommend this to readers much younger than I. This book would be great as a read aloud to your family. Amazon suggests 8+. I will be interested to see the movie coming out this April.

About Tracy:
Tracy Leininger Craven loves history and the stories of those who have left an indelible impression on our country's heritage. She is also inspired by the testimony of God's faithfulness through seemingly impossible circumstances. Her stories of real people come alive and serve to inspire a new generation of readers.
In her free time, Tracy loves to be outside enjoying God’s creation with her husband David and their three children.

Alone Yet Not Alone will come out in January 2013

I received this book from DJC Communications in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Review: Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
Scarlett Blaine's life in 1960s Georgia isn't always easy, especially given her parents' financial struggles and the fights surrounding her sister Juli's hippie lifestyle. Then there's her brother, Cliff. While Scarlett loves him more than anything, there's no denying his unique behavior leaves Cliff misunderstood and left out. So when he wishes for a rocket to Jupiter, Scarlett agrees to make it happen, no matter how crazy the idea might be. Raising the rocket money means baking pies, and the farmer's son, Frank, agrees to provide the peaches if Scarlett will help him talk to Juli. The problem is, Scarlett really enjoys her time with Frank, and finds herself wondering if, someday, they could be more than friends. Just as she thinks everything might be going her way, Cliff suffers an accident that not only affects the rocket plans, but shakes Scarlett's view of God. As the summer comes to an end, Scarlett must find a way to regain what she's lost, but also fulfill a promise to launch her brother's dream.

My Review:
Rachel Coker returns to the fictional scene equipped with an emotion-packed novel that had me glued to the pages!
Chasing Jupiter
Chasing Jupiter is her second novel, and I found it to be just as great, if not better than her debut novel, Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words. This time, our setting is in Georgia, 1969 and the central members of our new cast are, Scarlett Blaine, Cliff Blaine, and Frank Leggett.

Scarlett is special, in my opinion. She is able to communicate with Cliff and understand his quirks unlike their parents and the people in their area. She doesn't know why he's the way he is, but she still loves him. She holds so much of the house chores on her shoulders, in this way I can relate to her a bit. I've had a lot of house responsibility on my shoulders before, though not as long as she's had it. At one point, someone asks her why she does so much and she responds with, "Someone has to."

I liked the theme of peaches (peach pie, more peach pie, peach trees, ;D). I don't know why, but I did. I also thoroughly enjoyed the banter between Scarlett and Cliff and occasionally Scarlett and Frank. Rachel does a great job of tossing in enough romance to satisfy her readers, yet keep it to a minimum (no kissing, no dates). That's something I appreciate.

Chasing Jupiter took me off guard more than once with a few twists I hadn't anticipated. I love it when I can't see surprises coming! If you liked her previous work, then you'll surely love this one too.

About Rachel:
Rachel Coker resides near Williamsburg, Virginia, with her parents, who've homeschooled her since she was a child, and two sisters. She is the author of 2012's Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words. Coker has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life. Her gift for writing became apparent at the age of eleven, at which time her parents, who owned a Christian bookstore, signed her up for a year of lessons with a professional writing coach.

I received this book from DJC Communications in return for an honest review of my opinions. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Few Announcements

Happy 12/12/12 everyone! 

I have exciting news... you ready? *drumrolls*

Writings of Rosie hit 50 followers!!!

Woo hoo!! *throws confetti* I feel so blessed by each and every follower thank you all SO much. I wish I could do a giveaway in honor but alas, not this month. Next month for sure though, I promise. ;)

Secondly, I am heading out of town tomorrow. I do have a few book reviews scheduled to go up while I'm gone for you all to enjoy until I get home on the 21st. So if things seem a little slow around here that's why.

I pray you all have a fabulous week and I will see you again when I get back! ;D 

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Review: The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
A daring rescue. A difficult choice. Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom---but can she trust another person to keep her safe? Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible---she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else---he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what. When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help---but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them---they must also protect their hearts.

My Review:
Another enchanting read from Melanie Dickerson!
The Fairest Beauty
The Fairest Beauty revolves around Gabe, son of Rose and Wilhelm (their story was told in The Healer's Apprentice), and Sophie, daughter of Duke Baldwin and betrothed to Gabe's older brother, Valten. Having only read The Healer's Apprentice previously by Melanie, it excited me to know that I'd learn more about Rose and Wilhelm and their family.

This retelling of the story of Snow White (who seems to be quite popular this year!), is fabulously done. It incorporates twists I could have never anticipated and brings the story to life, especially after a year of Snow White movies and shows. I am quite impressed with The Fairest Beauty. The writing and characters meet expectations and the story will pull you in until the last page.

As always, the underlying Christian message slid in like a puzzle piece with Sophie's troubles as well as Gabe's. I really hurt for Sophie as she tried to heal from all of the hurtful lies the evil Duchess spewed at her over the years. It certainly isn't something that occurs overnight! While, Gabe's problems might seem trivial compared to Sophie's they are real. I won't say too much more, I'd hate to spoil a great book like this one!

In conclusion, I really, really, liked Melanie's latest! I'm crossing my fingers as to which fairytale she'll do next! And I secretly hope it will involve Valten. :-)

Melanie DickersonAbout Melanie: 
Melanie Dickerson is a two-time Christy Award finalist and her book, The Healer's Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). . Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Fairest Beauty will be released on January 8th 2013

Be sure to come back in January for a fun interview with Melanie! ;-)

I received this book from DJC Communications in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Writing Mondays: Pushing Forward (When You Don't Want To)

To my chagrin, I haven't written much since NaNoWriMo. I tried to take a small break and then write a little each day but to no avail. Now, I am facing a vacation later this week with little to no hope for time to write.

But I'm not going to quit.

It's going to be hard to write every single day following this one. But even if I only get 100 words down a day, that's still writing.

I have to keep reminding my inner editor, and myself, that my WIP is still a first draft, and it will probably be as rough as they come. But is that a reason to quit? I don't think so. As I write this post, I am on chapter 15 of 24. It's the same chapter I was on when I finished NaNo, and I hope to finally complete it today.

If there's anything specific that NaNoWriMo has taught me, it's that you have to crack down and fight for your novel and that's what I'm going to do.

So as I plow forward and fight to the finish, how are you doing on your WIP? Have you progressed since the end of November? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Review: Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan by Melanie Dobson

My Review:
This is the first "Love Finds You" book I have read as well as the first Melanie Dobson book I've read.

Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan
And while this wasn't a favorite, I still enjoyed it. Within the first few pages, I was ready to look up costs to visit Mackinac Island in Michigan. Miss Dobson described it so beautifully, I hope to one day visit. You will too, once you read this book. Haha!

The two stars of this novel are Elena and Chase. I really liked Elena's loyalty to her parents, though she was against their plans for her. I found her to be a sweet endearing character suppressed by her mother's standards. I loved her love for the Lord and longing to be close to Him.

I also held a high respect for Chase. He seemed to be a modern day celebrity on that island! Poor guy. He was continually bombarded by mothers throwing their daughters at him. However, not once did he take advantage of this, instead he rather hated it. He was very sick of women wanting him for money alone, which made Elena all the more attractive to him when they meet she has no idea who he is.

As far as stories go, this one is well done. Miss Dobson had two storylines going on at the same time and yet it wasn't hard to keep track of which was which at all. Overall, this wasn't a hard book to get into nor was it hard to read. I read most of it in an afternoon.

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
 It's the height of the Gilded Age, but Elena Bissette's family has lost most of its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, and they spend summers there in hopes of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls at the Grand Hotel, she spends her days walking along the island's rugged coastline. There she meets Chase, a young fisherman who invites her to watch the ships from an abandoned lighthouse. The two begin to meet there in secret, hoping to solve a decades-old mystery. Meanwhile, Elena's mother contrives introductions between Elena and the island's most eligible bachelor, an elusive millionaire named Chester Darrington. When Elena's two worlds unexpectedly collide, she will be in for the surprise of her life

I swapped a book for this one, no review required.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Review: Words Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart

My Review: 
Words Spoken True is an intriguing book. I don't recommend it to young teen readers.

Words Spoken TrueSet in one of my favorite time periods, this novel takes me to a part of the 1800s I haven't yet explored: the newspaper. You see, back in the day of 1855 before radios and TVs they had the newspaper. The two fictional presses we focus on in Words Spoken True are the Tribune and the Herald. These presses battle it out using their newspaper only, in hopes to achieve the town of Louisville's loyalty and readership.

First, we meet Adriane Darcy. She's a woman who's had little training to be a proper lady, in upper society's eyes. She isn't afraid to speak her mind and loves her job at her father's paper the Tribune. Her faith in God is what has kept her going after dealing with an evil stepmother who used to lock her in a closet as a child. She struggles with darkness and tries clinging to God's light.

Next we meet Blake Garrett, a stubborn gentleman who is the editor of the Herald. He tries to forget the skeletons in his closet and wants the Herald to become the top paper in Louisville. But when he meets Adriane and her fiancee Stanley he becomes determined to save Adriane from her annoying (jerk!) of a fiancee.

I liked Miss Gabhart's writing style a lot! I also really liked Duff, who became my favorite side character. However, I did feel like the romance was a little rushed near the end and I felt awkward reading the bedroom scene. (Nothing is explicit or overtly bad. Just know it's there.) But that may just be a personal quirk. Miss Gabhart gives you a real feel for the time period and brings to life an actual occurrence in history. I'll end my review here, because there's a lot I could spoil if I go on. Hehehe. :-)

I give this novel 3 stars.

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. She can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over failing competitor the Herald, and the battle for readers gets fierce.

When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story—and the girl. Can he do both before it's too late?

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold readers in its grip until the very last page. Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart once again delivers an enthralling and enduring tale for her loyal and ever-expanding fan base.

I purchased this book, no review required.