Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review: The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White is the third in her Gulf Coast Chronicles and this story takes place during the War of 1812, a war that neither the British nor the Americans really gained from.  Fiona Lanier is busy grieving her twin brother’s imprisonment on a British ship when she comes across an injured man who has been washed ashore.  Recognizing him as Charlie Kincaid, an old friend from years ago who happens to also be British she decides to keep his true identity hidden from her brother and uncle.  Charlie, who has lost a lot of his memory, is recuperating at the Lanier’s home and begins to feel a part of the family.  As time passes, Fiona and Charlie begin to fall in love until their peace is shattered violently as the war comes to them.  Fiona begins to wonder if she can continue to trust Charlie in a time of spies and traitors when she finds some incriminating evidence that he has been hiding.  This story is rich with historical detail and we have more than one love story going on.  I have enjoyed the previous book, The Creole Princess, and all the intricacies of the well-blended family.  This story is about the next generation and can be read as a standalone.  The only thing I wish was that there was a family tree included so I could keep better track of who’s who.  I look forward to future works by Beth White.  I received a copy for an honest review from Revell Publishing and the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

The Reluctant Duchess is the second in author Roseanna M. White’s Ladies of the Manor series, and I had really high hopes for this one.  I enjoyed the first, but this one is my favorite.  Why?  Because of the hero Brice, the Duke of Nottingham that’s why.  He played a prominent role in book one and he was my favorite character, even though the first book was not focused on him.  This second one is and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  Brice and Lady Rowena Kinnaird are wed under not very ideal circumstances, each carrying some pretty big secrets into their marriage.  Not only do they have to work on their marriage as complete strangers, but they are also buffeted on all sides by undesirable characters and a few hidden enemies.  There may also be a curse as well, and I think that particular story plot was very well done.  I enjoyed watching their eventual friendship grow and ultimately become a pure love.  This was a sweet enduring story about true love overcoming even the most unbearable of circumstances.  There was so much good in this story.  If you enjoyed the first, The Lost Duchess, you will want to continue into the next chapter and read how Brice gets his happily ever after.  I look forward to reading about Brice’s sister next.  I received a copy for an honest review from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions are my own.

Two Reviews: Siren's Song by Mary Weber

Jes’s Review:

Siren’s Song by Mary Weber was an engrossing read. She really sucks you into Nym’s unique, often scary world and Nym herself is as original as the land she lives in. In this book, which picks up right where the second one leaves off, Nym is desperately trying to rally all peoples for one last desperate fight against the evil Draewulf, who would consume them all, and his wraith army; a lot of pressure for an ex-slave who can barely control her superpowers.   Especially since she’s still haunted by the decisions she made previously, the nightmares of what will happen if she fails, and the fact that the man she loves is on the line… as well as the guy she can barely stand yet can’t help liking. This book will keep the pages turning. The entire trilogy is very interesting- and intense- and I heartily recommend it to everyone.   My thanks to Thomas Nelson’s Fiction Guild for my copy, the opinions are my own honest ones.

Nicki’s Review: Spoilers Possible

First off since the best part of this book was the characters, I am going to touch on them a little bit.  Nym is the main character. She is an elemental, which basically means that she can control the elements… yeah the name is pretty self-explanatory.  You read the story from her point of view and so you really feel how she feels; all the fear, remorse, anger (most of the time focused on Eogan who I get to shortly), love, and compassion.  I found her to be a strong character that I wasn’t constantly yelling at because she actually got stuff done.  She has a quick temper and an even quicker wit that kept me constantly grinning at her wild antics.  

Eogan is the main guy and oh, my goodness he is such a bolcrane (excuse my language).  Ugh.  I totally relate with Nym in her anger toward him.  I don’t think I have ever read another book in which a hero has so infuriated me with his personality and actions.  And yet he is still so likeable and attractive… how does that even work?  Nym and I will get back to you on that once we figure it out ourselves…   I really liked Rasha, Nym’s friend, who is a princess from nearby Cashlin, and in my personal opinion she should win the supportive friend of the year award.  

Myles is a hard character to wrap your mind around.  Is he good?  Is he bad?  Is he either?  I didn’t start this series liking him, but by the second book he was worming his way into my heart with his insistent primping, annoying personality, and supposedly endearing pet names but with the way he says them they sound more like insults (at least they did in my head while I was reading); and by the third book I was all like Myles had better not die.  My Lord Protectorate is under my protection; you mess with him, you mess with me.  Got it?  And moving on… 

The next character is King Sedric of Faelin.   I generally liked him but in this book I found that he was a little bit too needy.  It seemed like every time Nym got a chance to catch her breath a servant was coming and telling her that King Sedric needed her.  There’s also Kel, the mischievous little boy who has taken a shining to Nym and so likes to follow her around everywhere she goes.  And lastly there is Draewulf, the big bad guy.  Yeah I didn’t like him too much which I guess means the Mrs. Weber did her job well.  Basically he’s this really powerful 130 year old wizard who can climb into your body and take it over.  Oh, yeah and he’s a wolf and has black smoke that surrounds him and makes him pretty much invulnerable to most attacks.  So there you have the characters (well the main ones anyway) let’s get on to the story…

This book pretty much picks up right where the last one left off so I would advise reading that book before you read this one, and since that book starts off right where the first book left off I would advise reading that one first.  I believe that this series is best read from cover, to cover, to cover.  In the last book Draewulf had taken over Tulla and in the ensuing battle captured Rasha.  This book starts off with Nym and Eogan rushing off to Cashlin to warn the people there that they are next in Draewulf’s hit list.  However, nothing goes according to plan as the ship they are riding crashes, the Cashlins turn out to be more hostile than anticipated, and it becomes apparent that Eogan has not quite recovered from Draewulf inhabiting his body and is, in fact, dying.  

They race to Faelin to try to save him and also prepare the kingdom for the coming battle because, after Cashlin, it’s next in line for conquering.  Draewulf is coming with his undead army of wraiths to finish off Faelen for good, and the already war ravaged land is anything but prepared for it.  Nym is their only hope to win the coming battle.  A battle that she does not expect to survive.  Oh, and since we’re mean let’s just throw into the mix some tension between Nym and that bolcrane Eogan just to torment the poor readers.  I’m just kidding.  But still was all that tension really necessary…?  It about did me in in some parts.  This is a highly emotional and fast paced book that I read in two days.  I loved this book; actually I loved this whole series.  It is my new favorite fantasy series and I hope the author will right more books soon because I wholly enjoyed her writing style.   This book was purchased by my Mom and the opinions are my own

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: What a Bragger! by Lee Ann Mancini and Illustrated by Dan Sharp

What a Bragger! is a colorful, fun story book for kids that touches on real issues and teaches worthwhile lessons.  This story is part of a series of books called Adventures of the Sea Kids that tells stories to children using sea creatures.  The illustrations were very colorful and vibrant and kept my six year old engaged.  He really enjoyed going back and finding the hidden symbol of the fish on the pages.  I really liked the story and how well told it was.  This simple yet powerful message was shown by a little fish named Corey who was tired of his classmate Melissa always bragging about herself.  He takes his problem to his parents who help him deal with the situation and when Corey finds out the truth about Melissa, he decides to take the way of kindness and love.  I thought the story with the illustrations added up to an important yet whimsical tale.  My favorite character was the teacher Miss Mermaid, whom I found adorable.  I received a copy for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.  My son and I look forward to more of the Adventures of the Sea Kids stories.

Reviewed by Boos Mum with the help of Boo Bear

Review: The Salt Mines Mystery by Aaron M. Zook Jr.

The Salt Mines Mystery is the second book in the series Thunder and Lightning by author Aaron M. Zook Jr.  Taking place a few months after the first story our heroes are still having trouble with the same underground terrorist group.  Receiving survival packages from the mysterious Mr. G., the brothers, their dogs, and their friends find themselves in more danger than ever before.  Filled with mystery, surprising twists, adventure, and some scary situations begs the question; will all of them make it out alive?    This book is geared toward tweens and up, however it is much more violent than the first.  I really liked how they turned to prayer to God to help them cope with the seriousness of their circumstances.  I look forward to the third book and hope it will be out soon.  I received a copy for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own. 

Reviewed by Bubba       

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review and Author Guest Post: Uneven Exchange by S.K. Derban

Uneven Exchange by author S.K. Derban was a fun, fast-paced, novel that had me reading late into the night.   We have 33 year old Alexandra who is a successful business woman, but really wants something more out of life.  What she wants is a relationship with Jake Taylor, her business partner.  Jake has no clue to Alexandra’s feelings, and even though he is in love with her too, he has not acted and pretends to love his bachelor life.  So Alexandra deciding to move on receives an interesting proposition from the DEA.  They need her to go undercover in Mexico posing as a certain drug cartel’s sister.  She eerily resembles Daniela, so wanting a little adventure in her life she goes for it.  As she trains undercover telling no one, she has found an outlet for herself, and actually starts to really feel like Daniela.  Jake, on the other hand has no idea what is going on.

We meet a whole host of characters, especially getting to know the team that Alexandra works with.  We are also treated to all of their points of views which were really neat as we were given a fuller picture of what was going on, personally and professionally.  This is a high stakes game they are playing and the DEA has left out a few details themselves that Alexandra will soon find out about.  Filled with spies, danger, and threads of different romance stories, I am really hoping Mrs. Derban writes more with these characters as I would enjoy catching up with them.  I received a copy for an honest review from iRead Book Tours and the opinions are my own.

Now a few words from the Author:

Before Cancun was a bustling tourist destination, you could walk for miles along the white sandy beaches without seeing a soul. My husband and I had the pleasure of spending weeks at a time enjoying this jewel of Mexico. I remember standing on our hotel balcony and just gazing at the water. The different shades of both aquamarine and blue seemed to hold my vision captive. I knew this incredible setting must be used in one of my books.
My feelings continued as we rode on the water taxi from Cancun to Cozumel. Since both destinations were equally breathtaking, I decided to also use the setting of Cozumel in my story. As I wrote Uneven Exchange I vividly remembered walking along the many places I chose for Alexandra to walk.

One fun story was used for Armando and Conner when they rode the bus to town for dinner. One night while on holiday in Cancun, we decided to go into town for a delicious Mexican dinner. At this point in Cancun’s history, very few hotels dotted the shoreline, and it was not profitable for a taxi driver to wait around hoping for a fare. The fastest and most economical way into town was on the bus. Fortunately, we were told in advance about the requirement for exact change. Ready for our adventure with change in hand, we boarded the bus, and headed into town. As the bus rumbled along, we observed, and heard, other passengers pounding on the side of the metal bus wall when they wanted to get off. The bus driver immediately stopped upon hearing their signal. When our turn came, we both rushed to make our sound, and were promptly let off right in front of the restaurant door. How fun! (Yes, the meal was amazing!)   

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Review: Pseudonym by Dennis E. Hensley and Diana Savage

Pseudonym was a book that I wasn’t really sure what I was walking into.  At first I thought this was going to be a violent story, so I braced myself for that, but it did not turn out like that.  This is a book about a young woman by the name of Shelia Davis who wakes up on her birthday (she is now in her 30’s) and realizes that she has not lived the life that she has wanted.  She is very depressed, and I would be too considering her life.   First off, her father had to raise her and her two brothers alone after his wife’s death, and he certainly had some notions as to a woman’s role in life.  Shelia benefited from her English teacher’s loving hand, especially since she needed a mother’s role model.   With Mrs. Parks help, Shelia is able to take a writing course over the summer at a local college.  While there, she meets her husband Dan Gray.  As a reader, we see all the warning signs, but Shelia feels so trapped at home and thinks a marriage to Dan would be an escape.  Even her overbearing father sees Dan for who he really is.   So that is where we meet Shelia, in a dead end job and in a marriage filled with empty promises with Dan.

Through a series of meetings and some bizarre circumstances, Shelia is able to emerge as a famous author and fulfill her dream of writing.  I will not go into detail to how that all happens, though it was interesting and sad at the same time.  This was not a favorite read of mine, I really hated reading how the two most important men treated Shelia, all the deception, and as a romance junkie, I was really hoping for more of a resolution in that category.   My thanks go to The Book Club Network, Inc. for providing me with a copy for an honest review.  The opinions are my own honest ones.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer

What drew me first and foremost to Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer is the name of the heroine, Neva.  That is my mom’s name and we have never met another person with that name so it was neat to come across that name in a novel.

Neva lives during the time of the Great Depression and this book takes a look at what life was like during that very volatile time in our nation’s history.  She runs the family mercantile while her husband goes away for business.  However, one time her husband does not come home as he and his other wife have died.  In his place have come his other three children who now need a home.  I cannot even imagine the shock and dismay that someone would feel to find out that what you thought was your life was all a lie.  To find out that your husband, your love, had a secret family.  Now Neva is expected to take in her late husband’s other children.  What a blow especially since she wanted to have more children, but could not after the birth of her twins.  Is there room for these children in Neva’s heart, innocent children yet ones that remind her of her late husband’s great deceit?  This novel is heartwarming and heart aching at the same time and begs the question what would you do?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinions are my own.

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the highly acclaimed, best-selling author of gentle stories of hope such as When Love Returns and Room for Hope. With more than one million books in print, Kim has garnered numerous awards including the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. She lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband Don. She enjoys travel, quilting, and spending time with her daughters and their families.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Review: The Secrets of the Castle by Aaron M. Zook, Jr.

The Secrets of the Castle by author Aaron M. Zook is a mystery action adventure story that is great especially for tween boys.  The two brothers and their dogs, Thunder and Lighting, find themselves in the Neuschwanstein castle, in Germany in the year 2012. On vacation with their parents and friends, strange things begin to happen to them.  Due to too many coincidences, the brothers do all they can to become sleuths to help their father, who is in the military, investigate.  Although these things are happening, the family still tries to have a normal vacation.  However, things begin to escalate as threatening messages are found, kidnapping, and secret passages are discovered.   With a nemesis that has an overarching story line, this book ends well leading into the next in the series which promises to be just as exciting.  I received a copy for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

Reviewed by Bubba

Review: Mississippi Nights by D.M. Webb

Mississippi Nights is a family drama dealing with two brothers, one a decorated police officer and the younger one a firefighter.  Getting right into the book we are witnesses to a tragic accident that has set the two brothers at odds with each other.  Sgt. Jeremy  Boyette was unable to save his brother David’s fiancĂ©e, Rebecca, from a car explosion, though he certainly tried and has the scars to prove it.  David unjustly accuses Jeremy and takes off for the big city for three years.  David finally decides, like a prodigal, it would be better for him to return back home so he could at least be near his parents and older sister’s family and Jeremy’s family.  However, David returns home with hidden demons and a secret that is eating him alive.  This book deals with addiction and how some secrets can eat your soul, and what it truly means to be your brother’s keeper.  Can David forgive Jeremy and embrace the second chance he has been given with the very lovely Maggie, the preacher's daughter?  I received a copy for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Miriam by Mesu Andrews

Miriam by Mesu Andrews is the second book in The Treasures of the Nile series.   This follows the first book but can be read as a standalone as 40 years have passed between the two.  Like The Pharaoh’s Daughter, this book swept me up back in time to ancient Egypt during the time the Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians.  This book has two points of view, Miriam, Moses’s sister who is now 86, and Eleazer, Aaron’s third son and the personal guard to the second first born son of Pharoah.  We are treated to these two very different viewpoints as God starts unleashing the 10 plagues on Egypt and their various responses.  I found it so interesting to experience what it may have been like to live during such unbelievable times and through the devastation the plagues left.  Wrought with political intrigue and emotional conflict this was a book that had me hooked from page one, making me examine what my own personal responses would be.  I was reading with my Bible open as again I gained new insights into verses I have read before, pulling out even more morsels of truth.  I am currently doing a study of the book of Revelation and reading about these ancient plagues in light of that study really pulled me even more into this story.  Once again Mesu Andrews has done her Biblical and historical research and provided a story that even though I knew what was going to happen had me on the edge of my seat as it all unfolded.  And one must not forget the romance, though not central to the story, it was very satisfying.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinions are my own.