Friday, February 19, 2016

The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

The Reluctant Duchess
(Bethany House 2016)

Roseanna M. White first brought readers into the world of The Ladies of the Manor with her book The Lost Heiress. I found myself captivated by this book and did not think another would pull me into a story as deeply as that one did.

Boy, was I wrong. The Reluctant Duchess was by far even better than the first book of the series. Maybe it was my penchant for all things Scottish, since my own ancestors had escaped the clearances and came to America. Maybe it was my love for a heroine who defied the odds and had more spunk to her than many others. Maybe it was for a hero that reminded me in many ways of Georgette Heyer's Sylvester. What ever it may have been, The Reluctant Duchess caught me in its grasp and held on until I finished the last word, and confirmed my suspicions about who would next receive the Fire Eyes.

This is an era that isn't readily available in most historical novels and Roseanna M. White brings it to life in such an effortlessly way it would seem. The many characters' point of views layered the story with mystery and nuances. The faith element was so natural that the reader could see how it was an integral part of their lives.

Each page brought either frustration at the characters, joy with their joy, the heartache of loss or fear, and above all the hope and love that ultimately overcomes all. I enjoyed immersing myself into this world and seeing the growth of the characters as they came together.

If I enjoyed the first book of the series and absolutely adored this second book, I cannot wait to see how I respond to the third! Roseanna M. White has written an exceptional story line that far exceeds anything I could ever expect.  

***I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest and complete review*** 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Counted With the Stars
(Bethany House 2016)

There are countless books that tell the stories of ancient times: walking with Jesus or Moses, traveling with Abraham or Peter, or even the earliest mentions of Israel. But very few tell the tale from a different perspective. 

Connilyn Cossette's Counted With the Stars shows the world the rich history and wondrous miracles of Yahweh, the Hebrew's God, through the eyes of a mistress-turned-slave Egyptian woman. The reader experiences the hardship of slavery under an Egyptian merchant's household. We walk the life during the plagues and feel her confusion about this unknown God. Her doubt and fears are weaved through her longing to belong to someone, to something.
As you follow along in Kiya's life, you start to understand that her friend, Shira, was right: Yahweh was preparing Kiya for something special. She is pulled in many directions, but finds herself being lulled by the unabashed love the Hebrews have for their God who seems to her far stronger than her deaf gods.

This book brings to life the story of Exodus in such rich detail that reading God's words again will bring a new understanding to the majesty of what transpired and the blood covenant that was made with His people.

Emotions are laid bare. Faith and hope spring forth. Fear and awe mingle with the words read. Truly this is one of the best Biblical fiction books I have read. 

Rare is a book makes a reader want to read more in detail what God has said, and this book pushes you back into the Bible with a new understanding and a new light.

The last sentences of the book held by far the most powerful message of them all and I encourage you, the reader, to grab this book and fall in love with history.  

Truly an awe inspiring tale set in the lush land of Ancient Egypt.

*** I received this book via NetGalley in exchange of an honest and complete review***

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Calico Spy by Margaret Brownley

Calico Spy
(Shiloh Run Press/Barbour Publishing 2016)

This was a really good western/romance novel. I always find the stories of Pinkertons entertaining; especially one of a woman who is determined to defy all odds and beat the preconceived ideas of how and what a woman should do.

The heroine isn't a prissy woman, nor is she an Annie Oakley. To me, Katie was the in-between, strong, independent, and yet woman enough to catch the eye of Branch, who was a complex man.

There were not a lot of twists to this book, nor was it unpredictable; but, this didn't mar the story at all. It was steady. There were comical moments. It was historical accurate. And it was thoroughly enjoyable.

This is the second book that I have read of Margaret Brownley's and I find that every time I pick up one of her books, I find myself enjoying each word I read.

***I received this book through NetGalley in exchange of my complete and honest review***

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Rachel McMillan
(Harvest House 2016)

This is an entertaining, out-of-the-box novel set in the early 1900s. From the Morality Squad to the restrictions placed on women, the two characters within the story buck convention and go about their own way, blazing a trail and uncovering crime and corruption (and there is a lot of that!). I really enjoyed the side notes throughout the reading; even the tidbits of history was a thrill. The dialogue and syntax placed me right there along with them. It was as if I was watching a black-n-white Noir film with the spunky heroine. Sights, sounds, and smells were so well described I could hear the streetcars and smell the vendors and smoke of the nightclubs. Even could imagine the newsboys shouting on the sidewalks.

Quite different from most novels that I have read, I found this one to be refreshing and extremely well written. Even the style of writing was the classical style seen in older books: books that I cherish. 

There isn't much to say about this book. It had its faults, but they were quickly overshadowed by its virtues. This is definitely a book that I will read again. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

(Thomas Nelson 2016)

As I began to read this book I began to have mixed feelings. What made this a Christian fiction book? 

Yes, it is very clean and highly entertaining. Cassidy is a true high spirited redhead that is immediately likable. Jarrod was a little harder to get to know, but eventually once I took in the Texan cowboy mentality it seemed to mesh well.

My only problems with this book were the following: 1) I needed to read the prior books in the series to understand some of the characters and know who they were, 2) too much backstory jolted me from the book and I felt it could have been handled as dialogue, 3) the introduction of Pebble and Rand was a little abrupt and seemed to interfere with the flow of the reading, and 4) I expected more Christian content in the book but it was lacking.

What did I like? Many aspects of the book: 1) it was extremely clean and entertaining, and at times funny, 2) each character had their own quirks that helped them grow throughout the story, 3) the pace was steady and kept me reading, and 4) although light in nature, the Christian element was present.

Although I was a little reserved about this novel, I did find that I enjoyed it. It made for a light read and I am sure that I would enjoy other Debra Clopton books. If you like spunky Texan characters and enjoy clean romances, then this book is a definite winner in that category.

***I received this book from Thomas Nelson via BookLook Bloggers in exchange of an honest and complete review.***

Monday, February 1, 2016

Of Moose and Men by Torry Martin/Doug Peterson

Of Moose and Men
Torry Martin and Doug Peterson
(Harvest House 2016)

I didn't know anything about this author. It was the cover and title that captured my attention. And boy, am I glad I received the chance to read this book.

With a lighthearted and self-depreciating humor, I found myself giggling and most times laughing out loud--loud enough to wake my sleeping cat that hogged my side of the bed. Between the humor and words of wisdom, each chapter contained a story that was more relevant to a Christian in any walk of life no matter if we're from Alaska or not. I could visualize each scene and at times predict what would happen. And that made it an even merrier read.

This book doesn't give black-n-white stories. It is chocked full of tie-dyed testimonies. Poignant reminders of Biblical truths that a reader is sure to highlight brings to light a refreshing and real look at life. God doesn't want perfect people. He wants us. And Torry Martin reiterates that time and time again.

From crouching sin to the blindness to of the 21st century people to neon orange facial hair, these truths are spoken about in a heartwarming and delightful manner.

I came away with quite a few quotes that spoke to me and I copied them down. I discovered new ways to look at things and people. And I felt a kinship with the author--for many reasons.

I also learned more about how life intersects with another--from Air1 to Adventures in Odyssey, but I'll leave that for you to discover. And you'll enjoy discovering it, too.

If I learned anything else from this book is that at times I'm a salmon ghost fish, I relate to the hippies, the misfits, and the weirdoes, and I suffer from "comparative worthistis", too. But it's all okay because God molded me. I, just like you, am His peculiar treasure. 

I'm sure Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska would delight all readers.  

***I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and complete review***