Saturday, September 20, 2014

Full Steam Ahead - Karen Witemeyer

Nicole Renard is the only daughter of the successful business owner of Renard Shipping.  Rumors abound that her father's success is directly tied to his possession of the Lafitte Dagger, a rumor pervasive enough to drive her father's competitors to threats and violence to possess it themselves.  Determined to find her father a worthy heir, in the form of a husband that she chooses, Nicole sets off for New Orleans, only to be waylaid in a small town along the way.  The small town where Darius Thornton is known as the eccentric hermit who occasionally blows things up at his property outside of town.  Most people don't know that he is actually doggedly pursuing ways to prevent steamship disasters.  In need of money to continue her journey, Nicole ignores Darius' request for a male secretary and the town's warnings about him, and proves her worthiness as not only a transcriber of notes, but of a contributor to his experiments.  But what of her own pursuit, and pursuers?  Will she risk the lives of those she's come to care for if she's found, or will she run away again?  And what of the heir for her father?

Once again, I felt misled by a cover; I expected a much fluffier book, with a sort of wilting heroine.  I found much the opposite; Nicole Renard was an intelligent, brave, independent woman, with a strong sense of family loyalty.  She was willing to make necessary sacrifices for her father, but with an eye to not sacrificing her own well-being along with them.  I loved watching her relationship with Darius develop, as she proved that she was not only capable of copying his chicken scratch, but interpreting it and correcting it as necessary.  I may have a weak spot for heroines who excel at math. Ahem.  Additionally, watching the other characters come to care for her and her for them made the story warm and gave it depth.   Nothing was solved easily, but there was hope for all, and it was enjoyable watching it all come together.

I give this book 3.5 stars.  I'm glad that I picked it up to read, despite the cover!

You can find Full Steam Ahead HERE.
You can find Karen Witemeyer's site HERE.
I have enjoyed several of Ms. Witemeyer's books; you can find my review of Stealing the Preacher HERE.

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

Red Gloves Series - Karen Kingsbury

Red gloves: a symbol of giving, of hope, of Christmas miracles.

Gideon's Gift:
Earl is mired in misery and grief, living a life on the streets with only his red gloves for comfort.  When they're stolen, is all hope gone?  Gideon is living with leukemia and praying for a Christmas miracle; her parents want that miracle to be her remission, she wants something bigger - for Earl to believe again.  Will either get their miracle?

Hannah's Hope:
Hannah is driven, wealthy, and has strong political connections.  She's also lonely, living the majority of her life alone with her overly formal grandmother while her parents serve as ambassadors in Sweden.  Her wish for a Christmas miracle is to spend Christmas with her parents.  Until her mother drops the bomb that her dad is really her stepfather, and she hasn't seen Hannah's biological father in 11 years.  Could she find her father and see her mother for Christmas?

Maggie's Miracle:
Megan's son is floundering, spending his days with a grandma who can't keep up with his energy and having a mom whose career goals keep her chained to her office.  In desperation, Megan signs her son up with a mentor program that connects single adults with grieving children; in this case, connecting a grieving young widower with the son of a woman who has long given up on love.  Perhaps this connection could be healing for more than just a child.

The first thing to note about this series is that it appears to be a re-release with new covers.  When I requested these for review, I did not realize they were several years old.  I may have, in fact, read some of them closer to their original release; however, it was fun to read several of them back-to-back to gain a continuity of the theme.  Being that these are Karen Kingsbury books, you can count on everything working out well for everyone in the story, even if there are rough patches along the way.  But sometimes you need that kind of story, for hope, for encouragement, or just for something light to read that might make you cry, but still turns out okay.  The addition of the Christmas setting to these stories only serves to emphasize the miracles that occur, and the faith of those waiting for them.  I did enjoy the variety of characters and settings, although all three that I read include children, they range from a child with cancer, to a single mom trying to help her son, to an independent, well-off teenager searching for love and answers.

I give this series 3 stars; I would recommend the set as a gift for some light Christmas reading.

You can find Karen Kingsbury's site HERE.

I received a copy of these e-books from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend

Sniffy has gone missing, and Sheerluck Holmes is on the case!  Who has hurt Sniffy's feelings?  Can the veggies make him feel better?

My kids love the Veggie Tales books, and having one they could read themselves was fantastic.  My first grader was able to read this book the whole way through, with help on just a few words.  Not only were the words simple enough for a first grader, but the story was sweet and clear.  My sons quickly caught that the veggies had made Sniffy feel bad, even without meaning it, and that the way they made him feel better was to apologize.  I see this being a book that gets read over and over in our house, by the 5-year-old, the 6-year-olds, and Mommy!

4 stars to this cute easy reader.

You can find Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend HERE.

I received a copy of this book from Zonderkidz, in exchange for my honest review, as part of the Booklook bloggers program.