Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston as a battered woman, escaping the husband who scarred her beautiful face. The physical and emotional wounds have faded with time, and her life is finally full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity's handsome and charming brother, Sean O'Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she's ever known? 

My Review:
Another good one from Miss Lessman!

A Heart RevealedI am/was super excited to finally read Sean's story! Goodness, he's the oldest shouldn't his story been sooner? Nonetheless, this one was very interesting to read. As a quick side note, it is definitely apparent that Miss Lessman has raised the "passion/romance" bar. I truly love Emma and Sean, but there were several issues that came up in the story that I had to skip. :-(

On a more positive note, I found Charity's sisterly affection for Emma so, so, sweet. Reading A Heart Revealed really opened up the doors for us to see Charity's better, softer, side. For once, I actually liked Charity! Emma's motherly care for her neighbor, Casey, was very endearing as well.

It was really different for me to read about Emma, though not in a bad sense. To me it was just weird for her not to be an O'Connor sister! Haha! The tables are really turned from any of the previous books to this one. Overlooking the extra doses of passion, I did like this one. Emma and Sean are such sweet characters and I'm happy they've both found happiness and love in each other. :-)

I bought this book, no review required.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman




Back Cover (from Goodreads): 
The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

My Review:
I must give a fair warning of possible spoilers in this review... I'll do my best!

A Hope UndauntedI was so, so, SO excited to read Katie's story after reading about her antics as a child. Going into the book I thought I knew how things would play out. Keyword being: thought. If one thing hasn't changed from the Daughters of Boston series to the Winds of Change series it's this: Julie Lessman knows how to incorporate twists like no other. Haha! She not only shredded my hopes for a happy ending but then she ripped out my heart...only to patch everything back together before "the end".

I kid you not.

Katie O'Connor has been the object of most of my laughs throughout Faith, Charity, and Lizzie's stories and I am glad to say she still is in A Hope Undaunted. Armed with spunk, attitude, and a strong will, Katie does not live an angelic lifestyle... Until her father goes to extreme measures to rein her in. But, despite her flaws, I still love Katie. And Luke, for that matter. However, they still remain the two most frustrating beings next to Charity and Mitch.

I'm going to put an end to my review here, because I'd hate to spoil anything for you. But, in sum, this was a fun book to read. Sadly for me, there are several romantic scenes I had to skim over and some all together skip, just like the previous books. :-( Because of this, I recommend this series to mature older teens/adults.

I purchased this book, no review required.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport {Revell Blog Tour!}

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
Charlotte Farrow, maid in the wealthy Banning household on Chicago's opulent Prairie Avenue, has kept her baby boy a secret from her employers for nearly a year. But when the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child's fate. Can she face the truth of her own past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life's tragedies determine the future for her?

This compelling story set against the glittering backdrop of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition captures the tension between the wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable. Author Olivia Newport expertly portays social classes while creating a story of courage, strength, and tender romance.

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (Avenue of Dreams, #2)

My Review:
This is a book you won't want to put down!

I blew through this in a day. It was so easy to read and slip back into the setting from The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. I have been waiting for The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow for a long time and I am pleased to report my expectations were reached! A very good friend of mine compared it to Downton Abbey, and I have to agree. It really held that separation of social classes that we're so familiar with in Downton.

I think my favorite character was Charlotte. (No surprise there!) I really liked Charlotte in the first book and was simply ecstatic to find out the next book in the series would be about her. Charlotte is such a sweet person, and she's a great mother to her son Henry, who stays with a woman while Charlotte works for the Bannings.

Another thing I liked is that we really get to know Archie, my second favorite character, in this novel. He is head over heels in love with Charlotte though she puts him off at every turn. I loved his persistence. There were quite a few times I thought, "Okay, this is it. He'll be done with her now." But I was wrong. 

There were one or two things I didn't like, very minor things. For one, it felt like a character had a too sudden change of heart. The other thing I didn't like, as a writer not a reader, was a moment in the book where it felt like Miss Newport gave Charlotte an easy-out. That's just a personal opinion. But aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, thanks!

About Olivia:
Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Her novels twist through time to discover where faith and passions meet. Her husband and two adult children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

About the Book:
Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.

When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor's daughter figure out which brother to blame... and which brother to trust with her heart?
My Review:
The Tutor's DaughterAnother great regency novel from Miss Klassen!!

I was, and still am, pretty excited about this novel. I am a huge fan of Miss Klassen's novels, mainly because she writes so elegantly and in a way that subtlety reminds me of Jane Austen. The Tutor's Daughter really fought for my favorite spot of all Klassen's novels, and it succeeded. It beat The Maid of Fairbourne Hall ever so slightly.

The Tutor's daughter's name is Emma Smallwood. She helps her father with his pupils and keeps their books. She likes things to be tidy and in order, a quirk I can very much relate to but not to the extreme Emma goes to sometimes. An unusual component in this novel is that Emma is the one to have turned her back on God, not Henry. Typically in novels I've read the roles are reversed and it's up to the woman to convert the man. Seeing Miss Klassen do the opposite was refreshing and different.

Henry Weston is the son and heir to Sir Giles, baronet. He studied under Emma's father, John Smallwood several years past and was notoriously known for tormenting Emma during his stay. Now that they meet again, things have changed. He is older, more mature, and holds firm belief in God.

I was truly baffled by the mysteries woven into the tale, and I don't say that often. I won't say much more because I would hate to spoil this fantastic book for you. :-) I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves Regency novels or Jane Austen. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I purchased this book, no review required.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

And the Winners Are...

Thank you all for entering! This has been really fun, I can't wait to do it again. ;-D OK, now to the part you all are itching to get to!

And the winner of Vanished is... 
Vanished (Private Justice, #1)
Merry
Congrats! Keep a sharp eye on your email inbox, I'll be sending you an email shortly.

And now for the winner of The Fairest Beauty!
The Fairest Beauty
Rissi
Congrats, girl! I'll be popping you an email in a bit, kay?

Big thank you to everyone who tweeted, blogged, and entered!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot {Revell Blog Tour}

Back Cover (from Revell):
Amanda Cabot explores themes of love, courage and sacrifice in the second book of the Westward Winds series. With an authentic backdrop of 1880s Wyoming, Cabot creates characters whose struggle to forge a life in the old West ultimately win your heart.

After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But when a notorious robber believes she knows the location of a long-lost treasure, she flees to Cheyenne and opens a dressmaker's shop to lie low and make a living. When wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry enters the shop to visit her best customer Miriam, Charlotte feels drawn to him.

If Barrett is to be a senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming, he must make a sensible match, and Miriam has all the right connections. Yet he can't shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.

Soon the past comes to call, and Barrett's plans crumble around him. Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness? 

My Review:
Waiting for SpringWaiting for Spring has just a dabble of mystery, a wink of romance, and a touch of faith within its pages.

From page one I grew fond of Charlotte, a widow and mother of a blind year old son named David. Charlotte does what she deems best for her son at every turn, going as far as changing her identity to protect them. Her strength despite her fear is so honorable. She tends to David and protects him like a mother bear over her cub.

It took a few chapters but I did grow to like the male lead, Barrett Landry. His mother taught him to be a gentleman, though they were never rich, which made him honorable, respectable, and loyal. Over the course of the book he discovers what's really important to him and what isn't, a realization that saves him from a lot of heartbreak.

Amanda Cabot incorporates the right amount of mystery and romance for a good blend. Her main characters are strong, as is her villain. In some ways, I wish she had not revealed the villain as soon as she did but it worked out, in a sense, knowing as long as I-the reader-did. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable read. :-)

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, thanks!

Amanda CabotAbout Amanda: 
Amanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names and a popular speaker. The author of Paper Roses, Scattered Petals, Tomorrow's Garden, and Summer of Promise, she is also a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the cofounder of its New Jersey chapter, a member of the ACFW, and an avid traveler. She lives in Wyoming.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Les Misérables (Tyndale)

My Review: 
In light of the new Les Mis movie, I jumped at the chance to review this Audio drama from Tyndale.

Focus on the Family takes the book written by Victor Hugo and turns it into a marvelous story you can listen to with the whole family. (It recommends ages 12+.) I loved the cast, they were wisely chosen and well suited to their roles.

Les Miserables is a moving story of redemption, forgiveness, and doing the right thing even when you don't want to. Jean Valjean, convicted for stealing some bread, served nineteen years for his crime. Now back out in the world, no one will accept him. He gets set back on the straight and narrow by a kind priest. Jean then goes out to change his life, hoping to leave the name Jean Valjean behind forever.

Having never read the book, it was fascinating to see what parts of Les Mis were not included in the musical. I was glad to see there wasn't much cut for the musical, and that what was cut or changed wasn't crucial to the story.

All in all, this was a great listen! If you have older children, this might be a fun thing to play for the family before you go see the movie. It's about three hours total. (Great for car rides!)

I received this audio drama from Tyndale in return for an honest review of my opinions.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Vanished by Irene Hannon (Revell Blog Tour) {Giveaway!}

Back Cover (From Revell):
A tenacious reporter. A skeptical PI. And a secret that will shatter lives.

Reporter Moira Harrison is lost. In the dark. In a thunderstorm. When a lone figure suddenly appears in the beam of her headlights, Moira slams on her brakes-but it’s too late. She feels the solid thump against the side of her car before crashing into a tree on the far side of the road.

A man opens her door, tells her he saw everything, and promises to call 911. Then the world fades to black. When she comes to, she is alone. No man. No 911. No injured person. But she can’t forget the look of terror she saw on that face in the instant before her headlights swung away. And she can’t get anyone to believe her story-except maybe a handsome ex–homicide detective turned private eye, who reluctantly agrees to take on the case.

As clues begin to surface, it becomes obvious that someone doesn’t want this mystery solved-and will stop at nothing to protect a shocking secret.
 
My Review:
Words cannot fully express my excitement to read Vanished!

VanishedAfter a tear-ridden goodbye to the Taylor family, I felt ready to embrace the new characters Irene introduces us to. In Vanished, we now take a look at Private Investigators. Specifically, Phoenix Inc. and the three men who work there: Cal, Dev, and Connor.

Moira Harrison comes to them with a case she's convinced needs attention, though the police disagree. I really liked Moira. She's a woman scorned once and has learned from said mistake. She has spunk and humor and a faith akin to Cal's. That makes her, in my eyes, a great heroine.

Cal, who is at center stage in Vanished, is man still aching from a loss long ago. His heart has hardened with bitterness and hate. He continually asks God the wrong questions and soon finds himself falling for the redheaded beauty. Can he overcome his anger and seek forgiveness?

Overall, this book was fantastic. While I really, really, enjoyed it, it didn't have the same feel to it as the Guardians of Justice or even the Heroes of Quantico did. Despite that, Irene doesn't fail to keep you reading until everything is set right. I can't wait to see who will be the star of the next installment of this series!

I'd recommend this book to older teens and adults. :-)

I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions. Thanks!

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About Irene:
Irene Hannon is the author of more than 40 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, a HOLT Medallion, a National Readers’ Choice Award, a Daphne du Maurier Award, a Retailers Choice Award and two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. She lives in Missouri. For more information about her and her books, visit her web site at www.irenehannon.com and follow her on Twitter at @IreneHannon.

Now for the giveaway! (Giveaway is only open to US residents, sorry!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Interview with Melanie Dickerson! {Giveaway!}

Today I have a special treat! An interview with Melanie Dickerson! :-D If you recall, I reviewed her latest The Fairest Beauty a few weeks ago. Enjoy the interview, because I have another surprise at the end!

Welcome, Melanie, to Writings of Rosie! Tell us about yourself, for those who don’t know. :-)
Hi, Rosie! Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I am a mom, wife, and writer living in north Alabama. I love chocolate and hanging out with my family. I was once a special education teacher with a degree in special ed. of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama. I have taught in Georgia and Tennessee, as well as Ukraine and Germany. Now I make paper beads and necklaces with said beads in my spare time, when I’m not writing. And my husband and two daughters keep me grounded and busy.

The Fairest Beauty 
How were you inspired for The Fairest Beauty?
I knew I wanted to write a Snow White story, and I started coming up with the idea about 4 or 5 years ago. While I was working out the plot details a couple of years ago, I would listen to Taylor Swift’s songs, “Love Story” and “Enchanted,” which inspired me a lot.

Will we get to see Duke Wilhelm’s family again?
Yes! You will see Duke Wilhelm and Rose and their children in The Fairest Beauty and in my next book, a Cinderella story called The Captive Maiden. Their second son, Gabe, is the hero in The Fairest Beauty, and their oldest son, Valten, gets his own story when he rescues Cinderella. :)

What movie/TV actors or actresses would you choose to play Sophie and Gabe, if there were to be a movie?
The person who looks the most like Gabe, and of whom I am a big fan, is Dez Duron, who was on the most recent season of The Voice. Dez would be a perfect Gabe! As for Sophie, I really couldn’t find anyone who fit her perfectly, but I guess the closest is Zooey Deschanel.

Gabe (via)
Is there anything unique or quirky that you do while you write?
When I write, I like to listen to Andrea Bocelli. His songs and his voice sound so romantic, and he sings in Italian, so it doesn’t distract me.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I like to write on my couch at home, but when I’m having a hard time getting the words down, I like to go to a public place like a restaurant or coffee house (even though I don’t drink coffee, only hot tea). For some reason, going to a public place with my laptop forces me to get the words down.


And lastly, where can readers find you on the web?
You can keep up with all my book news on my facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/MelanieDickersonBooks and on my website, www.MelanieDickerson.com
 
Sophie (via)
Thank you so much for stopping by, Melanie! I’ve loved interviewing you.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog! :)

And now for the second big surprise! I am giving away a copy of The Fairest Beauty! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway  
*   Copy is provided by DJC Communications, thanks!