Friday, October 25, 2013

A Talent for Trouble - by Jen Turano

Felicia Murdock thought she'd been called to marry a minister; until she attends his wedding to someone else.  She then comes to the realization that not only was this man not for her, but she had turned herself into someone else completely while she was trying to capture his heart.  Slowly, she rediscovers who she truly is, and finds that maybe being herself is what she's been meant to be all along.

I love this author, I loved this book, and I love this series.  I love the quirky, spunky, adventurous heroines, and I love the men strong enough to handle them.  I love that the women frequently find themselves in jail for all sorts of ridiculous reasons.  Even while these books are amusing and enjoyable, however, the author embeds truth throughout.  Felicia thought that being a pastor's wife, and turning herself into what she thought that looked like, was the only way to truly serve God and His people.  Yet, as she rediscovers herself as God made her, she finds that there is more than one way to look while serving God, and it doesn't mean what she thought it did.  I loved watching her see others' reactions as she cast off the disguise she'd put on during her infatuation with the pastor.  Even Felicia hadn't realized how much of her true self she had put aside to please others.

I give this book 4 stars.  I really hope the author continues this series, because I am not ready to be done with these characters.

You can find A Talent for Trouble HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.
You can find my review of the first book, A Change of Fortune, HERE.
You can find my review of the second Book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, HERE.

I received a copy of this e-book from Bethany House, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Eyes Wide Open - by Ted Dekker

Christy and Austin are not your average 17-year-olds, but not for the reasons they think.  Neither one of them have memories of their childhoods before they met four years ago in an orphanage.  Now, at 17, they're each living on their own, with very few real connections to anybody other than each other.  One day, they stumble into a situation so strange that they can't even trust what they thought to be true about themselves or each other.

This was not the book for me.  I don't mind the occasional thriller novel, or a good mystery, but I do not enjoy psychological mind games; especially when the plot gets so twisted that even the reader can no longer tell what is real and what is delusion.  And in no scenario do I find a story that includes convincing a young girl that her worst self-image is not only true, but that she's uglier than she thinks, and then using horrific cosmetic surgery to alter her body, in no way do I think that's an enjoyable storyline.  No matter the lessons that she supposedly learns at the end, the ends did not justify the means in this story for me.

I give this book 2 stars.  It was not badly written, it was just not, in any way, the type of book I enjoy.  If you enjoyed Dekker's Showdown, then you may enjoy this.

You can find Eyes Wide Open HERE.
You can find Ted Dekker's site HERE.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Forever Friday - by Timothy Lewis

Adam Colby has discovered a photo album of postcards that hint at a lifelong romance between sender and receiver.  A romance so strong that he feels the need to know more, to find their secret to lasting love after divorce has left him hurt and disenfranchised.  As he wades into the depths of the love story between Huck and Gabe, perhaps he can not only find healing, but his second chance at finding his soul mate.

I was not wowed by this book; the comparisons to Nicholas Sparks books seem founded, and it was very reminiscent of The Notebook, so perhaps if that's what you enjoy, you may like this book more than I did.  I loved the idea of a 60-year-long romance, cemented by sending love poems from husband to wife every Friday.  I loved Huck's character - starting with her insistence that friends and family call her after a male literary character, all the way to her dialing 911 because a lady "needs" to get her hair done.  However, I wasn't in love with the rest of the book.  Even their love story fell a little flat to me; yes, they worked on sharing their secrets, and not letting the "Long Division" separate them, but there was no growth, no work on bettering each other or helping people around them.  They saw their housekeeper, Priscilla, as the daughter they'd never had, but there wasn't even any depth to that part of the story; the reader didn't get to see any affect on her life from having interacted with the Alexanders.  And the part of the story that fell flattest to me was the faith aspect; several times, the reader was told that Huck had a strong faith, and it kept her going, yet there were no examples of this faith, and it the only real "faith" discussed was her faith in her "guardian angel," Mister Jack.  Believing in an angel who supposedly predicts your future and saves you from harm is not a deep faith.

I enjoyed the writing, I enjoyed the characters of Gabe and Huck for what they were.  But there just wasn't enough to this book to make me love it.  I give it 3 stars.

You can find Forever Friday HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

Please consider rating my review:

I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah, in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beloved - by Robin Lee Hatcher

Beloved is the third book in Robin Lee Hatcher's Where the Heart Lives series.  Dianna Brennan has been living in Idaho with her adoptive mother, waiting for her husband Tyson to be declared dead so that she may move on with her life and marry Brooke Calhoun.  However, on the evening of their engagement party, instead of being presented with a death certificate, Dianna is confronted with Tyson himself, not only alive, but desiring for Dianna to stand by his side as his wife during his campaign for Senator.  Can she pretend to be the happy, smiling wife required for a candidate's appearances?  Can she live in his home and continue to hate him?  Or will she be convinced that he's changed and allow her heart to be open to possibilities she'd thought gone forever?

When I requested this book, I didn't realize it was part of a series I'd read and reviewed before.  I read the first book Belonging, which focused on Dianna's sister, Felicia, and reviewed it here, but never read book 2, Betrayal, which follows the story of their brother, Hugh.  Even with not having the complete story to this point, this book read well as a standalone novel.  I just found myself wishing I knew what had happened to Dianna's siblings along the way.

Tyson Applegate had a lot of reasons to ask for forgiveness, and was determined to not only tell people he'd changed, but also to demonstrate that the change went deeper than appearances.  While he worked hard to show Dianna and his father his remorse, they were also forced to look within and examine their own hearts and motivations.  I enjoyed that, while all of the characters were flawed in their own way, the growth that occurred was neither quick nor easy.  Each character had to make their own decision whether they could actually change, or whether they would remain mired in the mistakes of their pasts.  As Diana remembered her adopted father asking her, "Do you want to be right...or would you rather be righteous?"

I enjoyed this book, and while I wish I had read book 2 as well, the characters and story in this book were enjoyable on their own.  I give this book 3.5 stars.

You can find Beloved HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I received a copy of this book from Zondervan, in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Governess of Highland Hall - Carrie Toransky

Julia Foster has returned to England after spending 12 years assisting her parents as medical missionaries in India.  Due to her father's ill health, Miss Foster finds herself needing to seek employment to help her parents while her father recovers, after which, she assumes the family will return to their calling in India.  Feeling herself to be qualified to serve as a governess, having taught Indian orphans for 9 years, she is still surprised to find that this position at Highland Hall will include not only tutoring the motherless six and nine-year-old children of the master of the Hall, but also keeping his recently orphaned teen aged cousins in-line, as well as prepare them for the upcoming social season in London.  It's a lot to handle, and it doesn't help to add in a moody master, a challenging head housekeeper, and a rising doubt on just how strong her missionary calling might be.

The characters in this book really made it enjoyable for me; I cared about Julia and how she was working very hard to do her job and honor God at every turn.  Yet, she was not infallible, but was usually quick to apologize for her actions and seek to make them right.  Sir William was under so much pressure, both internally and without, that it would have been easy to make him one-sided and appear to be nothing but gruff to those around him, but with the viewpoint shared equally from his and hers, it made him a much more well-rounded character to see how deeply afraid he was to let down the people he loved.  Or to be let down yet again by someone else.  It was a struggle for him to believe that anyone could be as completely forthright and genuine as Miss Foster, but her depth of character couldn't be maligned even after several attempts by those seeking to discredit her in his eyes.

Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars.  It was decently written, with good depth to the characters.  The story was just average though, with nothing super exciting or challenging to make it stand out.  A decent read, and I will likely read the next installment in the series.

You can find The Governess of Highland Hall HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

Please consider ranking my review; it helps me continue to get great books to review!

I received a copy of this book from Watebrook Multnomah Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Hope is Found - Joanne Bischof

**Review is spoiler-free IF you've read the first 2 books of the series**

My Hope is Found is the third installment in the Cadence of Grace series.  Gideon has been released from Cassie to return to Lonnie, soon to be free to remarry her and reclaim his family.  Yet, it's not quite that easy.  First, the paperwork hasn't cleared, so Gideon isn't quite free after all, and when he does return to Lonnie, he finds that another man has tried to stake a claim on her heart.  While Gideon waits to be legally allowed to marry Lonnie again, he has to determine whether he really is the right man for her.  Meanwhile, Toby can acknowledge that the "right" thing to do would be to allow Lonnie to remarry her son's father, but he is unwilling to give up easily.

As excited as I was to receive this book to review, I put off starting it because I hated to have this story come to an end.  I have come to love these characters and I wasn't ready to let them go just yet.  Just as before, the fringe characters in this book really give the book life and vulnerability, yet this was really Gideon's book.  His time to change, or not.  His chance to grow up, or not.  His chance to really find God, or not.  Having loved Gideon's journey throughout the series, it was both hard and truthful to watch him work through these struggles of facing how his past mistakes had brought him to his present troubles.  While I would have liked a bit more of Lonnie's side and Toby's thoughts, the book was rich and deep the way it was written.  I spent much of the book on the verge of tears, feeling each man's troubled heart and Lonnie's struggle to be loyal, yet true to her heart.

I don't think I can give a complete review of my thoughts on this book without spoiling it for other readers.  But I will say that if you read the first two books, this will be a satisfying conclusion; and if you haven't read them - you should!

I give this book 4 stars - I have loved this entire series, and I am sad to see it end.  I look forward to seeing where the author takes us next!

You can find Joanne Bischof's site HERE.
You can follow her on Twitter HERE.
You can find my review of Be Still My Soul HERE,
and my review of Though My Heart is Torn HERE.

Please consider rating my review so that I can continue to receive great books to review!

I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers, as part of their Blogging for Books program, in exchange for my honest review.