Monday, October 29, 2012

Legacy and Allegiance by Cayla Kluver


Harlequin Teen (June 28, 2011) 496 pages

Description:

In her seventeenth year, Princess Alera of Hytanica faces one duty: to marry the man who will be king. But her father's choice of suitor fills her with despair.

When the palace guard captures and intruder—a boy her age with steel-blue eyes, hailing from her kingdom's greatest enemy—Alera is alarmed…and intrigued. But she could not have guessed that their clandestine meetings would unveil the dark legacy shadowing both their lands.

In this mystical world of court conspiracies and blood magic, loyalties will be tested. Courage won't be enough. And as the battle begins for everything Alera holds dear, love may be the downfall of a kingdom.

My Quick Thoughts:

*If you plan on reading this series, I'd highly recommend getting the Harlequin published version as opposed to the self published(if you can still get that version). That is simply based on other reviews I've read. The Harlequin published version is apparently more edited.

I read Legacy a few months ago, but never posted my full thoughts on it. Although it took me a little while to get into it, I was eventually pulled into the story. I didn't care for the leading lady(still don't in the second book), but I see her growing. As far as I know this series is labeled as a romance, but I didn't feel a great deal of that going on. There's way more in Legacy than in Allegiance, and I'm guessing there will be more in Sacrifice, but I'd say this story is more than just romance! There is a love triangle going on, but it's not your typical one. It's historical, but I couldn't begin to guess what time period it is. There is just a touch of fantasy, but it's mostly realistic. I think the first book only had one word of profanity and there's several mild words in the second, but overall, very clean!

Based on the fact that I bought a copy of Allegiance(for full price) and pre-ordered Sacrifice, I think you can guess that I like this series! :)



Harlequin Teen (February 28, 2012) 512 pages

Allegiance is the 2nd book in the Legacy Series, so if you haven't read the first book, Legacy, you probably shouldn't read my thoughts on this one. There will probably be spoilers for Legacy. Warning: This is mostly a whole lot of rambling in an attempt to jot my thoughts down.

It's been a couple of weeks now since I finished Allegiance. I've been pondering my thoughts since then. I strongly debated between 3 and 4 stars, but the fact that I'm still thinking about it so much makes me go with 4. I've completely wrapped myself up in this world that Kluver has created. The possibility of 3 stars was mostly due to my complete disappointment in the ending, and my strong dislike of the leading lady. There really is SO MUCH that I LOVE about this book, though!

First, let me knock out a little venting about Alera. Mercy, that girl is stubborn! I can tell that she's supposed to be a strong leading lady at times, but for the most part I found her weak, selfish, and just plain annoying. It seemed like she was constantly fainting or being so overcome by exhaustion that a man was having to carry her to bed, or to a horse, or.....! Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the damsel in distress routine, as long as she has a backbone and has others' needs at the front of her mind. (Think opposite of Buttercup in The Princess Bride. I didn't care for her at all either.) I'm still keeping hope that she wins me over in the final book. I haven't completely given up hope on her.

Now the men of this series(other than Narian, which I still don't like), are a completely different story. I LOVED those guys! Steldor, Destari, Halias, Galen, and even shy Temerson have won me over. My favorites are definitely London and Cannan, though! Kluver has truly created an awesome group of guys. London's story so far has went a little different than I predicted. I'm still hoping some of the things concerning him in the first book are addressed in the final book.

Even though the two stories are completely different, while reading Allegiance, I was constantly reminded of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which I adored!

The ending....oh, it was enough to make me throw my book against the wall. Almost! :) So, so disappointed! Apparently, when a love triangle is involved, 95% of the time the author and I have different ideas of who should end up together.

I'm really looking forward to the final chapter of this series. I pre-ordered Sacrifice, which has FINALLY shipped! :P I'm hoping to get it Wednesday.

Content: There are a handful of mild words of profanity(he**, da**, bas****). There is almost no romance at all in this book, so no worries there! There are a few kisses, though. There is a great deal of violence and scenes of torture, although never greatly detailed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer


Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012) 350 pages

Description:

Amy Knackstedt moves with her children to Weaverly, Kansas, to escape the speculation surrounding her husband's untimely death.
She hopes the new location will provide a fresh start for them all. But her neighbor, Tim Roper, is not pleased to have a Mennonite
family living next to his apple orchard. When the children try to befriend him, he resists. Tim left the Mennonite faith years ago and doesn't want any reminders of his former life. Yet Amy and Tim find their paths colliding far more than either could have foreseen. Will this tentative relationship blossom into something more?

My Rating: 4/5 star

My Thoughts:

*My cover doesn't have that truck on it. I kind of wish it did.

To be honest, when I picked When Hope Blossoms up, it was only because it was my LAST review book at the time. I wasn't really in the mood for a Mennonite story. Despite that, I was pleasantly surprised at just how quickly I was pulled into the story.

I think it's important to know that this isn't a romance, despite the fact that it's labeled as one(I think). There is a little. Very little! It's a heartbreaking story of two families healing from loss and hard times. If you're exceedingly emotional like me, then go ahead and grab a box of tissues when you read it.

I liked the "Apple Orchard" aspect of the story. I have to confess that ever since reading Jan Karon's books, which contain an apple orchard, I've had dreams of having one someday! ;) I also enjoyed the Mennonite aspect. This was actually the first one I've ever read(although I have read several Amish stories). It was fun getting to see how much more "worldly" the family in this story was over the Amish books I've read. Of course, they are still much less "worldly" than me.

There are children in this story. I'm not the biggest fan of children in romance books(or what I expect to be romance books). I know. I sound horrible. I do remember another blogger admitting the same thing(Amber, maybe?? ;)) I do love children! Lets hope so, huh?! They work in here, though! They were a big part of the story, and without them, I wouldn't have gotten one of my all-time favorite lines ever in a book. "Momma made brownies for dessert. So lick your fork, Mr. Roper!" I might have laughed out loud at that part. :)

Overall, while it is a heartbreaking story, there are funny moments. I enjoyed it, even if I was afraid I wouldn't.

*I was provided a review copy from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer


WaterBrook Press (July 10, 2012) 224 pages

Decription:

The future of the Immortals is in the hands of an orphan

My greatest fear was that they would find us and make of us a sacrifice beneath a full moon. Now you, Thomas, must help us destroy the circle of evil.

The last words of a dying woman would change the life of young Thomas. Raised behind monastery walls, he knows nothing of his mysterious past or imminent destiny. But now, in the heart of medieval England, a darkness threatens to strangle truth. An ancient order tightens their ghostly grip on power, creating fear and exiling those who would oppose them. Thomas is determined fulfill his calling and bring light into the mysterious world of the Druids and leaves the monastery on an important quest.

Thomas quickly finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he must put his faith in unusual companions—a cryptic knight, a child thief, and the beautiful, silent woman whom may not be all she seems. From the solitary life of an orphan, Thomas now finds himself tangled in the roots of both comradery and suspicion.

Can he trust those who would join his battle…or will his fears force him to go on alone?

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I found the description of The Orphan King so fascinating that I felt I HAD to read it. "A cryptic knight, a child thief, and a beautiful silent woman"?! It definitely had me curious!

I hate to say that I had a hard time getting into the book. To give the book a fair chance, I kept going to other books, and then coming back to it. It just wasn't working for me. It's not that I thought it was bad! It's just that I had no connection to the book. I could have easily left it, and not really cared what happened.

All of that said, I do think that teen guys(and girls) would enjoy it more than I was able to right now.

Faye @ Labor Not in Vain wrote a very interesting review of it, and I think that the background information about the series she gives is very useful. Definitely read it before deciding about this series!

*I was provided a review copy through Waterbrook's blogging program in exchange for my honest opinion.

Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer



Bethany House Publishers (June 1, 2012) 368 pages

Description:

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

When it comes to a Karen Witemeyer book, I need absolutely no convincing to read it. I know that I'm going to get a SWEET, "melt my heart" kind of romance, and I enjoy those ever so often! I wasn't disappointed in the slightest with Short-Straw Bride!

It was fun to not only see Travis and Meridith's relationship grow, but to also see her welcomed into the family by the 3 brothers. They weren't a traditional family in the least, but I adored their family bonds. I'm thrilled that there will be a companion book to this one, too!

Overall, it's sweet and funny. There's even a "teary-eyed" scene thrown in. I recommend this and any other Witemeyer book for any fan of Christian fiction, although I do have to warn you that this particular book was much more "physical" in the romance department than I was expecting. I don't recall her other books being so physical. That may or may not bother you, though.

*I was provided a review copy from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sandwich, With a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips


Description:

She moved to Sandwich, Illinois, in search of a new life, but ended up in a giant pickle.

Sandwich represents hope for twenty-year-old Maddie Buckner and Kyle, the eleven-year-old brother Maddie wants to spring out of foster care. Then she loses her new job after less than a day. It’s all Reuben-the-Jerk’s fault, and she’s determined to make him right the wrong.

He does so, reluctantly, by giving her a job at his restaurant, The Sandwich Emporium. Then crazy things start happening at the restaurant, and Kyle’s foster parents apply to adopt him. To stop it all, Maddie must learn the art of humbling herself and accepting the help God has arranged, risking her heart to Reuben in the process.

And she’d rather eat a million corned-beef on rye sandwiches than do that.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I'm not typically a fan of Contemporary Christian books. I don't know what it was about this one, but I latched onto it from the time I heard the title. I knew I had to read Sandwich, With a Side of Romance. I was expecting to like it, but it actually surprised me JUST how much I grew to love the story and characters!

A great deal of Christian romances involve a pure, Christian girl trying to tame the guy. I simply adored the twist on this story! We get a pure, Christian guy attempting to tame the girl with a pretty horrible background. Good guys DO exist girls! Don't get me wrong. Rueben has his faults. There are times I wanted to smack him upside the head. We all make bad choices and make wrong assumptions at times, though. None of us are perfect. He was a pretty awesome character. I'm not one to gush over fictional guys(or real guys for that matter...other than my husband), but Rueben made my heart melt a little! ;) I don't really care for most names of affection in books. I actually just skip over dialogue when someone is constantly getting called "baby". :P Rueben calls Maddie "hon" at one point and I think that might just be the sweetest scene I've ever read. It's such a simple scene, but I loved it!

I was amazed at all the humor that was packed in the pages, despite some very tough topics. Maddie has had a rough life, so she's got a bit of a chip on her shoulder. She's not the easiest person to like at times. She's a bit less conservative than me with her prayers to God, to say the least. I couldn't help but cringe with some of them. She grew on me, though!

Overall, this was a fun, humorous story. While I don't read a great deal of contemporary stories, I found this one to be unique!

*I was provided a review copy though the Pump Up Your Book blog tour in exchange for my honest opinion.

Cover Reveal for Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

The moment I've been waiting for.........




An Ancient Evil



Long ago, Etanun buried his sword in the depths of the Netherworld then vanished from all known history. One day, it is said, his heir will find the sword, and the Dragonwitch, firstborn of the Dragon King, will be finally slain.



A Desperate Hope



These stories are no more than nursery rhymes. In a world of cold reality, what room is left for fairy tales? Lady Leta of Aiven is pledged to marry a man she does not love . . . sleepless Lord Alistair struggles to unite the stubborn earls of the North Country . . . Mouse is lost, far from home, slaving as a kitchen drudge . . .



. . . and the reclusive Chronicler, keeping the records of Gaheris Castle, bears a secret so dangerous it could cost him his life and plunge the North Country into civil war.



An Impossible Journey



But when nursery rhymes begin to come horribly true, will these unlikely heroes find the strength they need to fulfill a prophecy of fire? For the Dragonwitch lives. And she has vowed vengeance on all who have wronged her.

______



Coming Summer 2013

Tales of Goldstone Wood

Timeless Fantasy that will keep you Spellbound!

(www.anneelisabethstengl.blogspot.com)


Isn't it gorgeous?! To me, it's much different than the other 4 covers, but I still love it. I can't wait to add it to my collection! I have to admit it's just a bit cruel getting to see this beautiful cover knowing I now have to wait until next year to read it, though! :)


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Return to Sunday Dinner by Russell Cronkhite


Thomas Nelson; Rev Upd edition (October 16, 2012) 272 pages

My parent's rating: 5/5 stars

Our thoughts:

I missed out on another book that my parents wanted, and I felt bad. I got Return to Sunday Dinner instead, and they were pretty happy with the trade-off. I flipped through it before giving it to them, and I was pretty impressed. It's a really nice hardcover book! It's not a "gift-type" book, but it would make a perfect gift. It's also a cookbook. I thought it was going to be more of a regular book with recipes sprinkled in, but it's pretty much recipes!

This is an updated and revised book from 2003, by the way.

Now to my parent's thoughts. They were even more impressed with the book than me. My momma has quite a few recipes that caught her eye, including the glazed baby carrots, the family friendly meatloaf, twice baked sweet potato casserole, and the Sunday comfort macaroni and cheese. She's also excited about some of the soup, biscuit, and cake recipes.

My daddy even got in on the reviewing. As I talked to my momma on the phone, I heard him in the background telling not to forget the pictures. He found them very appealing. ;) They both liked the way it was wrote and the steps given. There was even time saving tips for cooking. Sometimes it's just easier to cook some things ahead!

Overall, we have to recommend it! It's a beautiful addition to any cookbook collection!

*We were provided a review copy of this book through the Booksneeze program in exchange for our honest opinion.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rock Solid Faith Study Bible for Teens(NIV)


My Thoughts:

I think the Rock Solid Faith Study Bible for Teens is a great Bible for teens, although I do think the cover looks a little more boyish than for girls(generally speaking). Inside, I do think could appeal to both, though.

It's a hardcover, but it does lay flat, which is hugely important for me in a Bible. I want it to lay flat on the table or in my lap. Hardcover Bibles don't always do that.

Like most specialty Bibles, the actual verses are the Bible(in this case New International Version), but there are sections throughout that give thoughts or devotionals that would I imagine would appeal to a teen. (It's been a few years since I was a teenager. ;P)

I really like the color maps at the back of the Bible. There are 8 of them. There's also lots of indexes that aren't in most Bibles. For example, there's a "Rock Solid PLANS index" and "Unshaken PEOPLE Index", etc. There's a reading checklist of all the books of the Bible. There's only 1 box by each book and chapter, though, so I'd prefer to have a separate checklist that wasn't in my Bible. I imagine this would appeal to many, though.

This Bible is going to my oldest nephew(13) and I do think he will enjoy it!

*I was provided a review copy through B&B Media in exchange for my honest opinion.

Be The Mom: Overcome Attitude Traps and Enjoy Your Kids by Tracey Eyster



I apologize profusely to the author and publisher for the lateness of my review!

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Be the Mom is a quick boost of encouragement for the moms out there. I really enjoyed it! The chapters are relatively quick to read through, so it's a perfect book to read here and there. It became my favorite "waiting room" read.

The author and I really didn't seem to have a lot in common, but I still connected with her. We do have the "mommy" part in common. I liked her! She's writing as an experienced mom with older(teen) children(from my understanding). The suggestions she gives are methods that worked for her. She saw things that wasn't working for her family and she changed them. We get to see how these changes worked out. I'm not at all against moms who give suggestions as a "young" mom(young children), but it is great to get advice from the "wise" moms(older children).

I have quite a few quotes marked throughout this book, and I was having a hard time deciding what to share. Unfortunately, I have misplaced this book at the moment, so I can't share any of them. This book is already really late, though, so I'm going ahead with posting. "sigh" I assure you there are lots of things to leave you thinking, though!

The sections on being busy and comparisons are the parts that I got the most from. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes Facebook/blogging is my worst enemy. I see moms who are keeping busy going here and there, and I think I'm just not doing enough. Being busy doesn't automatically equal a great mom, though, and I appreciate the reminder. We're very simple around here. And comparisons. I've came a LONG way from what I used to be. I'm finally realizing that it's okay that my home and family doesn't look like it came out of a Martha Stewart magazine. It has never been spotless, and I no longer expect it to be at any point soon. It's okay that I can't cook worth anything, and that many of our meals come out of a box. I've spent so much time imagining a life of perfection that I've forgotten how to be content with what talents God has given me. I'm finally learning to do what works for us, and that's okay! This book helped me along with those journeys.

Overall, this is a simple, down to earth book with great mommy advice. I liked it!

*I was provided a review copy from Tyndale in exchange for my honest opinion.

Catch Up!

I've gotten really behind on reviews! I'm ashamed at how late a couple of them are. I do hope to finally get all of these reviews up THIS week, though. I also get to reveal a book cover by one of my all-time favorite authors on Friday, so I'm excited about that, too! :) I'm hoping that Friday will wrap up all of my current review books, at least as far as fiction goes. I have requested a children's Bible, and my parents have a book, but otherwise I've did great at passing up review books. I'm working on the last fiction review book at the moment, and I do hope to have it finished in the next couple of days. I've decided not to ditch my blog completely. I still won't do any of the memes that I used to, and I may not post often, but I'm still going to share the books I loved(and maybe some of the ones I didn't so much love).

I've also gotten horrible at commenting! I apologize for that, and I have intentions of doing better. I still read your blogs. It's not that I'm not on the computer, because I am(although not near as much as blogging days). I'm just not very productive when I am on here.

I'm finally feeling halfway normal again, though, so I'm attempting a great deal of catch up, both on the computer and in "real life". I've been spending my reading time either sleeping, laying on the couch, or watching T.V.(particularly catching up on Once Upon a Time on Netflix) Horrible, I know! I do have a good excuse, though. I've been sick. This past week has brought me halfway back to normal, and that's very exciting. I'm officially off of Zofran. These little pills take the edge off of the sickness part, but they come with some SEVERE side effects. If you've taken them, you know what I mean. I'm thrilled to be rid of them! In case you haven't already guessed, baby #3 is on the way. :D I'll be 17 weeks tomorrow. 3 more weeks and we find out the gender. This is our last one, and we have 2 boys, so I'm sure you could guess we're hoping for a girl. That said, we know God has blessed us with what He wants us to have, and we'll be MORE than thrilled either way.





This weekend, we celebrated Grasshopper's 4th birthday. After attending 2 other birthday parties in the two weeks before, he now connects the word birthday with cake. I met him at the bottom of the stairs on birthday morning and wished him a "Happy Birthday". He immediately ran to the table apparently looking for his cake. We went really simple this year. He's been obsessed with the moon the past few weeks, so that's what went on his cake. It was very exciting for all of us. This is the first year that he's REALLY understood it was his special day, even if he didn't understand why. :)


I'll leave you with a few of the books I have planned to read in the next couple of months:



Starflower (Tales of Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

I've gushed about this series enough. Y'all should know I adore it by now. ;) It releases November 1st, and I've got it in my Amazon cart to pre-order just as soon as I decide on one more item to make the $25 free shipping.




Sacrifice by Cayla Kluver

This is the other book in my cart ready to pre-order. I read Legacy a couple of months ago, and loved it. I'm currently reading Allegiance(yes, I'm working on two books at once), and I can't wait to see how Kluver wraps up everything!




The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip

Not only do I love the cover artwork, but I heard that McKillip has a similar writing style to Juliet Marillier, which is one of my favorite authors. I'm excited to open this one up!

Now I'm off to work on the many posts I've been procrastinating writing.