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Tag: "Romance"

Review: Stormbringers by Philippa Gregory

[ 1 ] August 10, 2013

17912512Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

Since combining traveling parties, Luca and Isolde become more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout all of known Christendom. Their travels are soon delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that may upset the balance of the civilized world. To Luca’s utmost surprise, the crusade is led by a boy even younger than himself and the boy appears to have gained influence over countless children.

As Luca and Isolde find themselves longing to join what appears to be the most holy of crusades led by a boy who truly speaks with God, they are quite rudely interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Death. Now Luca must investigate all manner of things. Did God truly speak to the young crusade leader, was it truly a sign of the end of days, or did the Devil himself influence the boy and those around him for his own evil means? All these questions must be found and reported and Luca has been charged with the responsibility to do just that.

Stormbringers is another neutral book in the Order of Darkness series and I can say my opinion of the series has not changed with this second installment. This is truly a book for the bored fence sitter in life. This story is for those people who are content to just read for the sake of reading rather than to gain anything from the experience. Luca and Isolde have the appearances of a budding romance, but as Luca seems to maybe, probably, sort of, feel like he will eventually become a priest sworn to celibacy, this romance is perhaps, most likely, possibly not meant to be. Or is it? I have no clue.

Lucky for us, Ishraq has been blessed with the possibility of more than one dimension to her character and might just be the saving grace of the series. I can actually say that I look forward to the possibility of going somewhere with her. Again, like its predecessor, there’s not really anything solidly negative to say, yet I truly don’t have anything positive to express either. The book just exists and I may or may not even bother with the next book in line for release.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

[ 1 ] August 9, 2013

changeling-by-philippa-gregoryReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Luca Vero is a young seventeen year old boy who, most unfortunately, has been expelled from his monastery on accusations of heresy against the church. He is almost immediately recruited by a mysterious stranger based upon his heretic trait of asking questions and seeking reason behind all the things the church teaches. The stranger requests that Luca follow sealed orders and set forth to seek out the fears of Christendom and determine once and for all, the truth of good and evil. Luca must determine if rumors and hoaxes are simply the fears of the simple minded or if they are truly signs of the end of days.

Meanwhile, Isolde, a seventeen year old Lady Abbess, has been trapped in her role at the nearby nunnery in an effort to prevent her from claiming her true inheritance upon her father’s recent death. Unfortunately, the nuns in her care have recently been plagued by strange visions and general insanity. Luca has been sent to investigate this very nunnery and must prove, without a shadow of a doubt, whether these activities point to Isolde’s innocence or guilt.

The best way to describe Changeling is to say that it has meandering potential. The title itself led me to believe the story would have more folklore and whilst the actual story line wasn’t a bad one, I’m not so sure I would have picked it up had it been alternatively titled. I wanted to like the premise, the characters, and general adventures, but everything just slowly meandered along. There wasn’t really anything to solidly catch my attentions. Luca, Isolde, Freize, Ishraq, and even Brother Peter have so much potential, yet they continually stay fairly one dimensional. There were neither intriguing twists nor turn of events and I never got drawn into the world Gregory meant to create.

On the plus side, there really weren’t any solid negative factors to the story. It was written well enough. The story progressed well enough. The plot was interesting enough. But unfortunately there just isn’t much of anything good to say either. Changeling, as a book, just sort of exists.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel

[ 7 ] August 1, 2013

SeaCreaturesNew_264x400Please join Susanna Daniel, author of Sea Creatures, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Susanna Daniel’s novel Sea Creatures focuses on a small family who must face big change while attempting to remain intact. And as main character Georgia Quillian has come to discover, this is not always easy to accomplish. Georgia and her eclectic husband Graham have both lost their jobs and are looking for a fresh start in Florida. The couple, along with their mute son Frankie, returns to Georgia’s hometown looking to find a new beginning for phase two of their lives. This beginning starts with the purchase of a rickety old houseboat that they will now call home.

The job loss that threw the small family into upheaval had to do with Graham losing his tenured position at Northwestern due in part to a sleep disorder. Georgia’s business also had to close, perhaps partially related to sleep issues of her own. As a result of the focus on sleep, there almost seems to be a heavy haze that hangs over the story and the characters. When Georgia takes a job as a personal assistant to a reclusive artist, Charlie, who lives in the middle of the bay in “Stiltsville”, a different light is shed on the story and the haze begins to lift. Charlie is gruff, private and older than Georgia, but the dimensions of the story open up further once he comes into the tale. Surprisingly, it is the hermit, that brightens the story as Georgia’s darkness and murkiness is cut through. As Charlie and Georgia’s relationship blooms into something far more than artist and assistant, more secrets about Graham, Frankie and Georgia herself slowly rise to the surface. The story moves in a few unforeseen directions and the characters all face ends and revelations that are very fitting for their roles in the story.

While Susanna Daniel does have a clean writing style, I found the book hard to get into. I did enjoy Charlie the most and without him, I feel that the book would have been a loss. I could never get behind Georgia as a supportable main character and this bothered me because I couldn’t figure out exactly why I had no interest in her, her struggles or her development. To me, Georgia almost seemed too wishy washy or too victimized to fully support even when she emerged a slightly different person. Ultimately, Daniel does write a smooth story that is different, personal and shows reflection of how pain can affect all of us in very different and personal ways.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble

[ 2 ] July 25, 2013

rosemarycottagePlease welcome Colleen Coble, author of Rosemary Cottage, who are touring the blogosphere with Litfuse Publicity!

Reviewed by Charity Lyman

Rosemary Cottage is one of those stories that pulls you right in to the lives of the characters. It opens with a murder and continues on with mystery, car bombing, suspense, romance and even some new births! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I am sure you will too.

Rosemary Cottage continues in the vein of Tidewater Inn, the first book in the Hope Beach series. And if you have read Tidewater Inn, then you will recognize many of the characters in Rosemary Cottage. But in this story you get to learn about Curtis and Amy. Curtis is a Coast Guard and Amy is a midwife and healer. In fact, she gets to help with a birth in the very first chapter! However, Amy is also searching for answers. Her brother Ben was killed in what appeared to be an accident with a shark but Amy received an email hinting there was more to it. Curtis is involved as well because his sister was dating Ben. There is a lot of intrigue in here and many twists and turns. You think you have things figured out and then Colleen throws in another clue that blows your theory out of the water.

As I hinted above there is a lot of suspense. Amy even gets to deliver a baby on a sinking craft!! You can tell that Colleen has done her homework and I found the insight into all the healing herbs and their uses quite interesting. You also get to find out about the Coasties. One of the things I enjoy with Colleen’s books though is the secondary characters. They are almost as much fun as the main people. In this one you have Heather, a runaway who knows so much more than she lets on; and Raine, who is such a sweetheart with all her “stay” and “mom”.

There was only one thing I didn’t care for. Curtis and Amy were obviously drawn to each other. But it seemed at times they were the best of enemies. They would be happy and talking to each other one minute and then the next they were upset. I know the author has to have tension between them as the romance heats up but it just happened a lot in the book. Did it keep me from reading it? Or even thinking of putting the book down before I was done? Not a chance!! I enjoyed the plot too much. Overall, a great book. If you enjoy a sweet romance with a lot of mystery and suspense, give this one a try. You will be glad you did!

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Charity lives in Illinois and is the oldest of 6 children. The family also has 3 dogs and a cat. Reading is a hobby when not cooking, baking, sewing or enjoying music. She reads many different genres but Christian fiction is a favorite. Charity can be found often at her blog, Giveaway Lady

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Thomas Nelson. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Newcomer by Robyn Carr

[ 3 ] July 24, 2013

Manually ReleasedReviewed by A.D. Cole

In the second novel of Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series, we return to that charming coastal town and the down-to-earth characters we were introduced to in The Wanderer. Hank Cooper has settled into Thunder Point life as the new owner of Ben’s bar and bait shop…only without the bait. He’s found steady, contented love with Coast Guard pilot Sarah Dupre. Deputy Sheriff Mac MacCain is still juggling life with his aunt and three kids while trying to advance his relationship with local waitress, and his best friend, Gina.

But fate has some wrenches to throw into the cogs of everyone’s fairly peaceful lives. Gina’s daughter, Ashley, is dumped by her college-age boyfriend and suffers some nasty bullying at the hands of the new girlfriend. Mac’s estranged ex-wife shows up, after ten years of absence and silence, suddenly demanding to see her children. Sarah is given some life-changing news about her position with the Coast Guard. And Cooper gets a call from a dying ex-fiance who has some startling news for him about their past together.

Life’s inevitable dramas play out on the tapestry of Carr’s most recent novel, The Newcomer, and the ride is an enjoyable one. The overarching theme seems to revolve around consequences. Do you have regrets? What would happen if you could go back and undo your mistakes? What about all the good things that your mistakes have resulted in?

Ashley endures a trial by fire when she sinks into depression as a result of bullying. But on the other side, for those who survive, is strength and empowerment. Gina finds the courage to confront her past and discovers that what she used to think of as a mistake, was actually an event that shaped her life for the better. Cooper learns that even when you do everything right, there can still be consequences that catch you off guard. And Mac finds his eyes opened to the fact that all of his grief and hard work have paid off in the form of a stable, loving family.

I’m new to Robyn Carr’s work. Thunder Point is the first series I’m reading by her. So I’m unfamiliar with how she usually writes. But I had expected that since the first novel focused primarily on Cooper, the second would focus mostly on Mac. That wasn’t how it worked out. I’m not complaining. But it did cause me to have to adjust my expectations. Instead, these books are serial dramas. We met all the characters in the first novel and we continue their experiences in this one. We’re also given a couple of new characters to look forward to in the third.

As I said with the first book, if you’re looking for a heart-warming beach read or some good bedtime reading, give Thunder Point series a try. It’s one of those post-card perfect towns with a cast of characters that you’ll want to revisit long after it’s over.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harlequin MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: A Bride for All Seasons by Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Mary Coonealy & Robin Lee Hatcher

[ 1 ] July 18, 2013

imagesPlease welcome Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Mary Connealy, and Robin Lee Hatcher, authors of A Bride for All Seasons, who are touring the blogosphere with Litfuse Publicity!

Reviewed by Amanda Farmer

A Bride for All Seasons is a collection of four stories by four well known authors who capture the stories of four different women and their plans to be mail order brides. Each of the women is trying to better her life and move on towards greater things, and the hardships that often face mail order brides do not deter them. Each of the stories are set in the 1870′s and each of the brides is looking for a second chance at happiness when they see ads in the Hitching Post Mail Order Bride Catalogue. However, the editor of the catalogue, Melvin Hitchcock, does take some liberties with the ads he posts to ensure that the ladies and gentlemen are shown in the best light possible and that the ads are answered.

Out of the four stories I loved And Then Came Spring by Margaret Brownley and An Ever-After Summer by Debra Clopton. In And Then Came Spring, we are introduced to Mary-Jo, daughter of a gambler, who leaves him to live with her aunt. Mary-Jo answers Daniel Garrett’s ad in the catalogue but when she arrives she discovers there’s been a shooting and she is no longer able to marry Daniel. Now she’s trapped in a town where she knows no one and has no money, until Daniel’s brother, Tom, proposes that she marry him so they can give Eddie (Daniel’s son) a proper home. I enjoyed reading this story and hated to see it end. I loved reading about the high jinks that Eddie put Mary-Jo and Tom through to get what he wanted.

In the other story, An Ever-After Summer, we are introduced to Ellie who has a hard life. She is told by everyone that she is cursed and that anyone who knows her is prone to have accidents and be killed. She answers Matthew’s ad and is excited to meet him and his daughter, Sophie. Although she isn’t what Matthew asked for in his ad, they are able to come to agreement when it comes to Sophie. I truly enjoyed reading this story about how Matthew and Ellie were able to grow to love one another.

The other two stories, Autumn’s Angel and Winter Wedding Bells, were just OK to me. I found those two stories hard to believe at times given the circumstances the characters were put in.

Overall, this is a great collection of short stories. I wished the first two would have been longer. Maybe the authors will elaborate more on their stories at another time. The four stories were well written and flowed nicely. My only complaint is that some of the stories were at times preachy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes Christian fiction.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Thomas Nelson. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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