Friday, February 28, 2014

The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson {Revell Blog Tour!}

18059981My Review:
Another quirky, fun-loving, release from Thompson!

Whenever I need a pick-me-up I run straight to Thompson's books. In moments I'll be laughing my head off while cheering on whoever I'm reading about. In The Dream Dress we get to know Gabi, someone we met in The Icing on the Cake. I love all the many angles of the wedding business and, though my favorite is probably photography, I did like getting into Gabi's head and watching her create. Create is such a lovely word, isn't it? Moving on...

My heart broke for Gabi over and over again. The poor girl didn't get any breaks! However, the reoccurring reference to Cinderella might have made me smile once or twice- only because I saw the truth of it. I felt like Gabi's story is a perfect example of overcoming one's past, letting old wounds heal, and leaning on the Lord for strength. This is what makes The Dream Dress my new favorite but stick around because it will probably change again. Haha!

As far as male leads go, Jordan was great. He always showed up when Gabi needed a boost and when she needed a little nudging toward God. Something else I really liked about he and Gabi's relationship was how it began with friendship, stepped toward innocent flirting, and then danced to a deeper relationship. ;-)

This brings me to the close. I'm always happy and excited to read one of Thompson's books and this one was no disappointment. I hope we get to visit Galveston again soon!! I recommend this book to romantic comedy lovers out there. Aside from a few winks to the wedding night and some kissing, Thompson keeps the book clean.

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

Back Cover:
A seamstress at a swanky bridal boutique, Gabi Delgado dreams of doing more than ripping out seams and fitting dresses to doe-eyed brides. She wants to see her own dress designs gracing the young women of Texas. When Jordan Spencer, the editor of Texas Bride magazine visits the shop to do a feature, Gabi is devastated to lose her job in his very influential presence. Convinced she'll never get her dreams off the ground now, Gabi needs lots of encouragement--especially from her friend Bella Neeley--to take a chance and start her business. And as she gets to know Jordan, she discovers that she may have to take a chance on love as well. Could it be that she'll have to design her own wedding dress soon?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck {Litfuse Blog Tour!}

18224923My Review:
A lovely, wonderful story from Hauck!!

It should go without saying that I LOVED Once Upon a Prince. I have had to endure staring at Princess Ever After on my review stack for some time now, and I was so glad to slip into its pages. Once again I was completely wowed by Hauck on all the minor details used to make up the bigger picture. I can't imagine all the research she did on royals and such, but it made everything almost tangible.

Oh, Reggie is an amazing lead. She's down-to-earth, funny, and incredibly relatable. More than once I giggled and snorted at her remarks or inner thoughts. That being said, I wish the story was longer! I loved her faith, albeit shaky at times, and watching her find her place in the world was such a delight. In some ways, Reggie's story reminded me of The Princess Diaries movies. If I had to choose between the two, there's no competition. I prefer Princess Ever After hands down.

Tanner was an interesting lead. I liked that he wasn't portrayed as some perfect hero, but instead as a man with several blemishes in his past, and when his mistakes resurfaced, he didn't shirk from his responsibilities. I liked it when Reggie called him out on his tendency to beat himself up. If she hadn't, someone else would have!

This was such a lovely story to start out my week with. Romantics, fairy-tale lovers, and royalty admirers combined will enjoy this one and it's predecessor. I recommend this book to readers fifteen and older. :-)

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Litfuse in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!!

Back Cover:
Regina Beswick never dreamed of faraway places. She’s happy with her life as a classic car mechanic and owner of a restoration shop. But an unexpected visitor and the discovery of a fairytale, drawn by her great-grandma, causes Regina to wonder if she might be destined for something more.

Tanner Burkhardt, Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg, must convince the strong-willed Southerner, Miss Beswick, that she is his country’s long-lost princess. Failure could destroy his reputation and change his nation forever.

As Regina and Tanner face the challenges before them, neither are prepared for love to invade their hearts and change every thing they believe about themselves. However, when a royal opponent nearly destroys Regina’s future, she must lean into God and trust He has sovereignly brought her to her true and final destiny.

Rachel Hauck is celebrating the release of her latest "swoon"-worthy romance,  Princess Ever After, with a fun $200 "Princess" prize package giveaway and a Facebook "Princess" party on March 6th. Grab your tiaras and RSVP today!

princessever-400-click

  One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa cash card (buy your very own "princess ever after" gown or tanks of gas for your "royal" ride)
  • Princess Ever After, Once Upon a Prince, and The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 6th. Winner will be announced at Rachel's "Princess" Facebook Party on March 6th. Connect with Rachel for an evening of "royal" book chat, princess-themed trivia, laughter, prizes, and an exclusive look at the next book in the Royal Wedding series!

So grab your copy of Princess Ever After and join Rachel and friends on the evening of March 6th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

It Had to be You by Susan May Warren {Tyndale Blog Tour!}

18232501My Review:
Another sweet, endearing story from Warren!

In this Christansen family novel, we watch Eden grow and figure out where God wants her to be. I really liked the little bit of Eden we saw in Take a Chance on Me, and I was so excited to read her story. I don't know what I expected, but I wasn't let down in the least. I can't say it quite topped Darek and Ivy's and Jensen and Claire's story though.

Eden is a cheerleader. Not literally, of course. She's the mother hen who doesn't want to see her chick, or her little brother, fail or get hurt. I admired this aspect of her character. It's a big sister trait, I think. But just like any older sibling, they all must learn to let their little sibling stand on their own two feet. It is no easy lesson.

At first I really disliked Jace, but then he grew on me, and it was too hard not to like him. Except when he had a momentary lapse of judgement and I wanted to slap him... Ahem. Anyway, I loved watching him come into his own, watching him mature. All main characters grow in a book whether or not it is obvious. In the same way, I feel like Jace was a classic case of someone misunderstood, thanks to the media. To me, it's simply the truth that you can't judge someone by their cover.

All in all, I totally enjoyed reading about Eden and Jace. I can't wait to see which Christansen is up next! I recommend this book to fans new and old of Warren's work ages sixteen and up. This book is geared more for women than teenage girls so keep that in mind. :-)

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

Back Cover:
Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen's cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits--and starting to fear she doesn't have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior--on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he's getting from Eden Christiansen isn't making things any easier. But when Owen's carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.


About the Author:
Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.

She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. You can find her online atwww.susanmaywarren.com.

You can read a Q&A with the author HERE!

The Thief by Stephanie Landsem {Litfuse Blog Tour!}

18144059My Review:
An interesting fictional story/take on the "minor characters" around when Jesus was crucified.

I'm really particular with the Biblical fiction I read, however, given that the story revolves around characters we are told very little about in scripture I decided to give it a shot. I was impressed with The Thief. It isn't a favorite, but I appreciated the story weaving Landsem executed. The whole story is definitely an intriguing one.

When I think about it, I believe I liked Longinus better than Nissa. His character, in my opinion, was just more likable. That being said, Nissa's character is one I'm sure more people could relate to. I couldn't, so maybe that's why I liked Longinus better. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the two of them on their separate paths come together.

I thought there was something a little off about the ending, but I can't put my finger on it. It was probably a bit rushed. In the big picture though, this isn't too big a deal and it is likely just me. I loved the way Landsem incorporated the last months of Jesus's life in the story. I won't elaborate too much on this, because I'd hate to give it all away. You'll have to read it for yourself. ;-)

The book itself is fairly clean with a couple of gruesome details given and mention of brothels. However, said details are very true to the time period. For this reason I'd recommend this book to readers fifteen and older and especially to those who regularly enjoy Biblical fiction.

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

Back Cover:
A Roman centurion longing for peace and a Jewish woman hiding a deadly secret witness a miracle that transforms their lives and leads them to the foot of the cross.

Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure. Desperate to escape the accursed Judean province, he accepts a wager. If he can catch the thieves harassing the marketplace before Passover, he'll earn a transfer away from the troublemaking Jews.

Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Only with the help of Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, can she keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and a roof over their heads.

When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Longinus longs to learn more about the mysterious healer. Instead, his journey leads him to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.

Unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they wonder who this teacher is who heals others but does nothing to save himself. Is the mercy he offers in his teachings real, or just another false promise? Can Nissa and
Longinus overcome their pasts to find a future free of their shackles?

The Thief is an evocative story of two people trapped in their circumstances and the life-changing power of forgiveness and love.

Interested in reading? You can purchase a copy here: http://ow.ly/tB6wJ

thiefbloggerbuttonDon't miss Stephanie Landsem's outstanding sophomore effort, The Thief.

Best-selling author Tosca Lee had this to say of the book: Filled with memorable characters, The Thief is a tale of hopelessness turned to hope, of high stakes made higher, and ultimate love. What happens when a character at the lowest rung of society crosses paths with the most well-known figure in history? The story of The Thief. I couldn't stop reading.

Stephanie is hosting a Kindle Fire HDX and book giveaway at her website. CLICK THE BUTTON to find out more and enter to win.

Find out what readers are saying HERE. (Click the REVIEWS bar.) Visit the book's landing page HERE.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

{Book Review:} Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

My Review:
18552617An edgy release from Grover!

Wow. I'm still reeling from reading the final pages. This is not a book for the young and light of heart. Written in first person present tense (as so many are these days...), we get an intimate look into the life of Tiadone, a biological young woman, who has from birth, been declared a young man in order to preserve her life. This is what drew me to the story after skimming the back cover copy. Pure intrigue.

The mastery of this story world is incredible. It felt almost tangible. However, there were a couple minor details left unexplained that I didn't work out until halfway through. I found it a minor drawback, albeit a distracting one. Other than that, I felt immersed in the story. I'm duly impressed.

Tiadone is a highly unusual character. As I mentioned earlier, she has been told for most of her life that she is a male, not female and that the amulet around her waist will suppress all feminine traits in her. Her gradual transformation over the course of the story is near perfection. Most YA books these days seem to be written in first person present tense, thus it's common. But Firstborn is a classic case where this perspective is needed. It's fits the story better than first person past tense would. We're thrown in the moment, and Grover wrote it exceedingly well.

I can't spend too much time on Ratho in this review, but I will say my affection for this particular hero goes back and forth. Once or twice, I felt like he acted out of character, but this is just my opinion. Firstborn pulls you in and wraps it's talons around your imagination, pun intended. I was loathe to ever put it down. I hope there is a sequel in the works, because I want to read more! It is worth mentioning that Grover offers a raw story holding little back, for this reason I recommend this book to girls fifteen and older.

Things to note for my younger readers... There are some gruesome violent scenes, and given we're in Tiadone's head we are given intimate details about her body, thus my recommendation to girls

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

Back Cover:
Where does a firstborn girl fit in a world dominated by men? When Tiadone was born, her parents had two choices: leave their daughter outside the community to die in the wilds, or raise her as male and force her to suppress all feminine traits. Now, as the first female living as male in her village, Tiadone must prove her father didn't make a mistake by letting her live. As her male initiation approaches, Tiadone knows every eye on the community is on her, and desperately wishes to belong and finally be accepted.---But at every step, traditional feminine gifts and traits emerge, and the bird she's been twined with is seen as a sign of the devil. Worse, as Tiadone completes her rites, she finds she is drawn to her male best friend in ways that are very much in line with the female gender. Confused and desperate, Tiadone tries to become what she must be while dealing with what she indeed has become: a young woman who may be able to stand up to her despotic rulers and uncover her real purpose in life.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rachel by Jill Eileen Smith {Revell Blog Tour!}

15747533My Review:
A heartbreaking fictional account of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah's life up to Benjamin's birth.

First off, I must say that I admire Smith's work. She presents three points of view in Rachel: Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. She did an amazing job. There is no easy way I could verbalize what I expected going into Rachel, but I am very pleased with the outcome. Smith personifies each widely recognized figure in a way we can relate to them. My heart broke so many times for both Rachel and Leah. I think it's safe to say Smith avoided bias.

We are not told much about daily affairs within Jacob's household, but I believe it is a safe assumption that the first few years things were tense and rough. Not only for the women but for poor Jacob as well. We'll never know the kind of people they were until we get to heaven, but I would like to think that Smith got a lot of things right. With every new release, she continues to impress me and I am torn as to whether Rebekah or Rachel is my favorite.

To conclude, I am a very picky reader when it comes to Biblical fiction and I am pleased to say that Smith meets all, if not most, of my high standards. I highly recommend this series in particular to fellow Biblical fiction fans out there. (I cannot speak about the Wives of King David series as I have not read them yet.) Smith does not shy away from topics spoken about in the Bible, but she does treat the more questionable content with delicate care. Jacob has four wives. We are told about him "going into their tent", but we are not given much detail, save for Leah and Rachel's wedding night where we are briefly told about the taking off of Rachel's robe and Jacob's ritual belt. Murder is mentioned and a in a city near Jacob's camp there is a festival of virgins.

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

Back Cover:
Beautiful Rachel wants nothing more than for her older half sister Leah to wed and move out of their household. Maybe then she would not feel so scrutinized, so managed, so judged. Plain Leah wishes her father Laban would find a good man for her, someone who would love her alone and make her his only bride. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jacob is making his way to their home, trying to escape a past laced with deceit and find the future God has promised him.

But the past comes back to haunt Jacob when he finds himself on the receiving end of treachery and the victim of a cruel bait and switch. The man who wanted only one woman will end up with sisters who have never gotten along and now must spend the rest of their lives sharing a husband. In the power struggles that follow, only one woman will triumph . . . or will she?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Enter the Sweet Beginnings Sweepstakes!!

Hey, everyone! There is a pretty sweet giveaway going on for Ann Shorey's new release, Love's Sweet Beginning. To celebrate the novel, author Ann Shorey and Revell Publishers are pleased to present the SWEET BEGINNINGS Sweepstakes, and your chance to win one of three marvelous prizes, all closely connected to the story.


 Here are the prizes!

GRAND PRIZE:

Baker's Bounty Pie-of-the-Month Club


When Cassie Haddon finds work in West & Riley's Restaurant, one of her first tasks is baking pies for a crew of rough workmen. She's never worked a day in her life, and has no kitchen skills, but really, how hard can it be to bake a pie? In honor of Cassie's baking trials (and eventual triumphs) our Grand Prize winner will receive a 6-month Pie of the Month Club Membership to the Grand Traverse Pie Company

SECOND PRIZE:
Timeless Treasures Prize Pack

Cassie doesn't have many luxuries, as she struggles to reinvent herself and make a life in Noble Springs, but a few small treasures brighten her cottage and lift her spirits. Our Second Prize winner will receive a prize pack filled with some of Cassie's favorite things: a delicate, rose-colored lace shawl, a pewter pen and ink set, and a bath set filled with lavender and lilac soaps and lotion

THIRD PRIZE:
Sisters at Heart Prize Pack

The women in Ann's Noble Springs series (Faith, Rosemary, and Cassie) are strong, resourceful, creative, and always looking for ways to give to others. To celebrate their giving hearts, our Third Prize winner will receive a complete, signed set of the Sisters at Heart series, to give to a friend, family member, or sister of the heart

The sweepstakes began Feb. 4th and will run until Feb. 20th. Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, February 21, 2014, and announced at AnnShorey.com. Are you excited?? You can enter here!

Here's the book blurb for Love's Sweet Beginning:
It isn't Cassie Haddon’s fault she's managed to reach the age of twenty-five without possessing any useful skills. Until the war, she always had servants to wait on her. After the war, she and her widowed mother moved from place to place, relying on family to care for them. Now she’s forced to find work to support them both. What isn’t in her plans is falling for Jacob West, a local restauranteur and grocer. She needs a job and he needs help. But can either of them see their need for love? Don't miss this tale of two people, from very different backgrounds, finding common ground and the hopes of a bright future together.

If you'd like you can read an excerpt here.

Thank you, Amanda, for bringing me on board! 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley {Revell Blog Tour!}

18059992My Review: (Warning! Minor spoilers below...read at own risk...)
Bradley debuts with a wonderful mystery!

I was immediately intrigued when I read the back cover copy for Shadows of the Past. I'm always eager for a new mystery to read late into the night and Shadows delivers just that. Bradley writes very well, bringing Scott, Taylor, and Nick off the page and to life. Every time you thought things couldn't unravel further, the stakes were raised again.

My favorite character, I think, was Scott and my second favorite, Livy. I really sympathized with Scott, and I wanted to see him recover. It disappointed me that there was no real, concrete resolution to his story; perhaps we'll be told or shown more in the next book. I also hope that we'll see more of Livy in the next book.

Taylor and Nick were well-crafted leads, but I had a hard time relating to Taylor. One aspect of Taylor I did like, was how realistic her emotions/struggles were. As Nick is a writer, I could relate to him more. I liked his loyalty and dependability. For me as a reader, I did not like how quickly a tense friendship turned into an almost-relationship.

To conclude, Bradley did a great job. However, I was able to pin the bad guy early on. I like to be surprised and proven wrong, so this did let me down a bit but this won't stop me from reading the next books in the series. As far as content goes, there is talk of crimes (rape, murder, etc.) and a couple kisses but nothing more. I look forward to what Bradley releases next!

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

Back Cover:
Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve--the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she is stalking the truth about the past, someone is stalking her.

Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife--a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. With his estranged brother the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

{Book Review:} The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

My Review:
18008075
Not the best novel from Klassen, though it's still a good read.
 
I always look forward to Miss Klassen's new book every year, though I must admit, this one let me down a little. The plot reminded me faintly of Footloose with a regency twist, but in reality there isn't much in common between the two beyond the lack-or unspoken outlaw-of dancing in Beaworthy, Devon. It was certainly a unique twist for a regency novel, although the reasons behind it felt lacking when revealed. The one aspect of Beaworthy I really liked was the depth to all the residents we meet. I adored Miss Tickle and Mr. and Mrs. Desmond. As for other supporting characters, the Allens and Mr. Barlow were also favorites of mine. I do wish we could have seen more of Aurora, her character intrigues me, nonetheless I understand why we didn't. 

All this brings me to the leading hero and heroine, Alec and Julia. I liked the focus on Alec's perspective a lotl probably because I didn't enjoy Julia's personality until closer to the end. Alec himself is not the usual hero you find when you dig into the pages of a regency novel, though he is far from perfect. Julia, on the other hand, got under my skin in a bad way. I pitied her situation, but it took most of the book for me to grow to like her. Most of the time she acted so recklessly that I wanted to ground her into the next century, but somehow Miss Klassen redeemed her and made her likable.

Overall, The Dancing Master ranks low for me, when compared to Miss Klassen's other books. However, I still believe that fans of Regency stories such as Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice will enjoy Miss Klassen's latest. There is talk of men and women sleeping together out of wedlock and in one instance, it results with a child. Nothing goes into detail. Though The Dancing Master didn't quite come up to par, I still enjoyed spending time in Beaworthy. 

I received this book from Bethany House in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. 

Back Cover:
Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village...and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.