Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden is one of my favorite authors and Until the Dawn was such an interesting story that takes place in 1898.  There were a few main characters: Sophie Van Riijn-our bright, joyful heroine, Quentin Vandermark the heir of the home and a very moody, sometimes cruel, wounded gentleman, Pieter the very scared and lonely son of Quentin.  The bodyguards, Quentin’s eccentric grandfather Nickolaas, Sophie’s father, Marten her former fiancĂ©, and the house itself were a few of the other characters.  This story had an air of mysteriousness surrounding it.  I found it intriguing how some people viewed the home and the land as cursed and others as an Eden.  We have archeology, biology, and meteorology represented in the story.  And all play an important role.  Not to mention the budding romance, the twists and turns throughout and all these elements added up to a very fresh, unique, and satisfying read.  I found this one hard to put down as there were lessons to learn and mysteries to solve.   On a side note my mouth was watering at the descriptions of Sophie’s cooking.   I received a copy of this book for an honest review from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions are my own.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: A Bride at Last by Melissa Jagears

A Bride at Last by Melissa Jagears is a book that had me emotionally spent.  We have a story of two wounded individuals that are really trying to survive life the best way that they can and sometimes they make some really bad decisions.  Silas Jonesy has not only been abandoned by his mail order bride, but he also grew up as an orphan.  When he finally locates his bride after 8 years, she has died but he finds out she was keeping something from him.   Enter schoolteacher Kate Dawson who lost her parents at a young age and then was abused by relatives, who has taken the now motherless Anthony into her care.   However, at the risk of losing her job because of a town that does not care for a little boy, she must now fight for Anthony not only against Silas but another man who also claims Anthony is his son.

Both of these characters don’t necessarily make the best choices, and understandably they are trying to protect themselves, but also frustrating as they end up making bigger problems.  We are also treated to two very different towns: one that cares and one that doesn’t.  This story brings back characters in the previous books but it can be read as a standalone.  I think the biggest lesson I grasped from this novel was to take care of your responsibilities and to always keep your promises.

I received this book for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: Twelve Days in December by Michele Paige Holmes

Twelve Days in December by author Michele Paige Holmes is the latest in her Hearthfire Romance series.  This one is a novella but it is every bit of a fulfilling story as the earlier novels.  This deals with two characters we meet in Marrying Christopher and what happened to them at the end of that story. Thrust into a marriage of convenience for different reasons but for both of their sakes, we get to watch William and Charlotte fall in love with each other.  William decides to take twelve days in December to spend with Charlotte and her son and those days draw him closer to his new family.  Both William and Charlotte will need to open their wounded hearts and give love another chance to become a true family.  This is a delightful, romantic, and quick read for the busy holiday month and puts you in the Christmas Spirit.  This is a clean read and can be read as a standalone novella if you have not read the previous novels.  Ms. Holmes is an author that I look forward to reading more of and I hope more of in her Hearthfire Romance series.  I received an e-copy for an honest review from I Am a Reader and the opinions are my own. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Power of the Matchmaker

The Power of the Matchmaker is a novella prequel for a series of books, written by different authors that will release once a month next year.  What all of these books will have in common is the Matchmaker and this is her story.  This felt very much like a fairy tale, a young woman and man in love then a mistake is made and the young woman fleas.  I was with Mae Li’s every step as she faces heartbreak and leaves to find a better life.  She definitely goes through some harrowing trials until she meets a strange old woman.  I look forward to seeing how these trials have shaped her character and her matchmaking abilities in the future books.  

I am excited about this series and to be reading some favorite authors and discovering new ones.  I received an e-copy of this book from I Am a Reader and the opinions are my own.

*This is a clean read.

 Don't they look great?!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review and Author Guest Post: The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse Series by author Gwyneth Jane Page

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada is the first book in a series about a little stuffed mouse named PJ.  He is found by a little girl and her mother during a rainstorm under a park bench.  As he becomes part of the family they decide to take him on their summer travels through Canada.  There was 6 travel stops and I learned a little bit more about Canada that I did not know before.  By the end of this beautifully illustrated book, I was ready to hop in a fifth wheel with my family and visit the glacier, the salt water lake for a swim, Niagara Falls (I have been there), Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, and Butchart Gardens.  Plus on all of these adventures, PJ mouse does seem to find himself in curious situations. 

The illustrations, which are drawn by the author’s daughter, are not only well done, but are cute and simple and are appealing to children.  I enjoyed this book and traveling with PJ and learning a little bit more about a neighboring country.  I received this book for an honest review from iRead Book Tours, and the opinions are my own.

In the Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Queensland, we hop on a plane with PJ and his family and head for his second adventure.  This time we went to Queensland, Australia.  I have always wanted to visit Australia so this was a fun little story book to read to my son about the different things PJ mouse was able to do in that far off country.  In this second story, PJ seems much more at home with his family and really excited to try out all the new and fun things.  As in the first, we learned a little bit more about a country and what it has to offer if we are able to visit there one day.    Our favorite chapter was the one where PJ goes to the amusement park and rides the Tower of Terror.  My little guy could relate to that. 

Again, the lovely illustrations were done by the author’s daughter in the sweet, simple style of the first book and PJ again found himself in interesting situations.  I look forward to more PJ Mouse and his adventures while traveling with his family.  I received a copy of the book for an honest review from iRead Book Tours and the opinions are my own.

What Makes My Books Different by Gwyneth Jane Page

My books are different in a number of ways.

1. Each book is about a different country and each chapter is about a different place. Along with the books, kids can get PJ's passport and stickers to track the trips as they learn about each place. There is a sticker to go with each chapter that they can put in the sticker book (passport) once they have read the chapter, like getting a stamp in your passport.

2. Kids can get their own PJ Mouse. This then makes the books about their stuffed animal and helps engage them in the reading/learning process.

3. While the books are a story about a fictional character they also provide factual information about places and have maps at the front and back of each book so kids can learn about the world. I also try to encourage kids to overcome their fears through the stories. Finally, I add an element of awareness of some of our endangered species and places. So while the books are fun and entertaining, they contain many lessons and messages as well.

4. I have returned to a more classic style of writing and artwork. While there is artwork on every page to help capture kids imaginations I also have plenty for them to read and I have left the big words in. Most kid's books seem to either be picture books with just a line or two on a page, or novels with all words and no pictures. I believe kids need to read from a young age, not just have pictures to look at, and I believe that older kids still like pictures in books. Thus, my books have ended up having a very broad age range, anywhere from two years old up to twelve years old.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Review: The Salt Covenants by Sylvia Bambola

Every once in a while on my reading journey, an author is able to grab my attention with their superb writing skills and completely immerse me in that time and place.  That was how The Salt Covenants by Sylvia Bambola was for me.  This was the first novel I have read by Ms. Bambola and her attention to historical detail was incredible.  This was a story about a young Jewish woman who is a true converso to the Christian faith and her life and journey to the New World, sailing with none other than Christopher Columbus on his second voyage.  After a devastating loss and the Spanish Inquisition looming, her family fears for her life and so as an obedient daughter she must leave her home country for a strange land with a husband she does not love, nor does he love her.  Her trials and tribulations are softened with the friendship and comradery she finds in the only two other women on this voyage to a new settlement. 
This is a violent and gritty book especially dealing with the inhumane treatment of not just the Jewish people and the Inquisition, but also the Spainards treatment of the Taino Native Amercan tribe.  Through all of this however, Isabel finds comfort in the love of the one true God and His Son.  Not at all preachy, this story shows faith being lived out in an oftentimes cold, indifferent, and cruel world.  This story is packed with truths, faithfulness, and true love for God, friends, family, and husband.  I received a copy for an honest review from the author through The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Review: Autumn Masqerade by Josi S. Kilpack, Donna Hatch, and Nancy Campbell Allen

Autumn Masquerade is a regency set of three novellas by three very talented ladies.  If you are familiar and enjoy the Timeless Romance Anthology collections you will be quite pleased with these longer regency novellas. 

Josi S. Kilpack is a new author to me and her story starts off the collection.  In her story, A Merry Dance, Lila is in love with her cousin Neville and longs for his return at the masquerade dance.  However, her uncle has other plans for her when she overhears him hoping to set her up with a military veteran by the name of Mortimer Luthford.  Determined not to like him she goes to extreme, often times hilarious measures to make him not interested in her.  I laughed and cringed at some of her antics and really hoped the best for her in finding her true love.

The next story, Unmasking the Duke, is written by author Donna Hatch who I have had the pleasure of reading her works before.  Taking a very shy young woman, Hannah Palmer, and dressing her up as Aphrodite at the masked ball helps her to come out of her shell and be a bit bolder.  However, what happens when the one whose eye she catches is the one she can’t stand?  I was engrossed in this story wondering which one, the stubborn pride or the stolen kisses, would come out as the victor in the end.  This one is lighthearted, with some angst mixed in, trimmed with a lovely romantic story that I have come to expect from Ms. Hatch.

What’s in a Name by new to me author Nancy Campbell Allen was my favorite of the three.  Dealing with identical twin sisters Persephone and Penelope Timely, who couldn’t be more different, they switch places so the older, favorite twin can be with her one true love (a lowly doctor), while the younger sister accidentally falls in love with the Duke she has been corresponding with as her sister.  A delightfully, romantic, and swoon worthy story follows as the Duke comes to the masquerade ball held at his estate eager to make the acquaintance of the young lady he has fallen for. This was storytelling with a twist.

I am pleased with all these clean reads and look forward to more in these collections and the other books written by these authors.  I do hope they release this book in paperback as well.  I received an e-copy for an honest review from I Am a Reader, and the opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Review: The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr

The Shock of Night is the first book I have read by Patrick Carr, and what a fantasy it was.  Clocking in at 455 pages, you have a very intricate world of politics, nobles, and religious factions.  Throw in a murder mystery and the king’s reeve (detective), Willet Dura, with some secrets of his own that are even unknown to him; an invading army; and you have a tale that will keep you up all hours of the night just to unravel all the knotty threads.  Not knowing who to trust, Willet, with his new found gift searches his city for answers to why a priest and his body guard were so brutally murdered?   What did they know?  Not only that, but as the bodies start stacking up, Willet is in a race against time to prove that he is not a mad man himself, and to unlock the secrets of his own mind of how and why did he survive the evil Darkwater ten years previous, and is all of this connected.

I have not read a lot of fantasies as they always seem to confuse me at first until I become immersed in their world and this story was no exception.  This is a darker, more violent tale that includes friendship and a hint of romance, which I wish there was more of.  I did enjoy reading out of my usual genre and I look forward to the next installment.  I received a copy for an honest review from Bethany House Publishers and The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

My Thoughts on The Way Back by Heidi Chiavaroli

  About: Young love means everything . . . until it leaves you with nothing. The summer before her senior year of high school, Laney Jacobs...