Friday, April 26, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen



Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2013) 416 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Emma Smallwood and her dad have a school for boys. Emma seems to take on more and more of the responsibilities as her father falls deeper into depression. When the opportunity arises for them to tutor the youngest Weston boys at the Weston home, they decide to take the job. After all, they currently have no students, which means no income. Plus, they are both hoping the change of scenery will be just the thing her dad needs to pull himself out of his depression.

Once they arrive at the Weston home, though, it becomes obvious they are hiding something. From the chilly welcome to the spooky noises, Emma doesn't know what to think of her new home.

As much as I enjoyed The Tutor's Daughter, I think I would have liked it so much more if I could have read it a bit quicker. Reading "real"(paper) books these days have become so hard and it seemed to be taking me forever. I just adore Julie's writing, so I assure you I *wanted* to devour this book! The Tutor's Daughter has a Jane Austen/Jane Eyre feel to it. I've never read any of those books, so that's purely from the movie experiences I've had. :S I read The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, which has a "Downtown Abbey" feel to it, last year and became an instant Klassen fan,

I really enjoyed the mysteries in this book, too! I love a good mystery that has me wanting to turn the pages, without leaving me scared, and looking over my shoulder. There was a great group of amazing characters, and I especially liked Emma. How can you not like someone who loves books so much?! She even gives up precious space in her trunk that should be for clothes, so she can carry more books with her.

If you like Recency type books, with a small dose of "gothic", then don't hesitate to pick up The Tutor's Daughter! I hope to read the rest of Klassen's books in the near future.

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison



EgmontUSA (May 14, 2013) 400 pages

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

The Rose Throne is the story of two princesses. Ailsbet and Marissa(Issa). They live in a world full of "weyrs". The women are supposed to be born with "neweyr", which is a magical ability that is tune with nature. They keep the plants thriving and manipulate them to grow where they should. The men are supposed to be born with "taweyr", which is the ability to cause death and pain. There's those who are born with no weyr(unweyr) and the unlucky ones who are born with the wrong weyr(ekhonos). The ekhonos are hunted down and killed.

Ailsbet is the princess in a land where newyr is forbidden from being practiced. Her father is a cruel man, and will stop at nothing to get exactly what he wants, even if it means killing those he should love. Ailsbet has been labeled as an unweyr, to her father's great disappointment. Issa is the princess of a land where neweyr thrives, and her power is one of the strongest. She's lived a protected and innocent life thus far.

The lives of both princesses are changed dramatically when Princess Issa is asked to marry Ailsbet's much younger brother, and Ailsbet makes a discovery about herself she wasn't expecting.

I'm going to assume this is going to be a series, because if not, that would have to be the worst ending EVER! It definitely seems to lead up to another book, though.

I was a bit confused at first with all the "weyrs". They eventually fell into place in my mind, though, and reading became much easier. I still don't know what I think about the characters that are left. Ailsbet has potential, but I still don't overly like her. She's learned to be tough and hide how she feels. Many of her actions seem contradictory to what I seem to know of her. I'm curious where the future will take her! There's still a bit of mystery left that I'm especially curious about involving a possible love interest for her. Kellin is from her land, so he's learned to be tough and hide his feelings also. That may be his problem for me, too. I like him well enough, but probably not as much as I should considering he's such a big part of the story. And Issa. She's adorable! She almost comes across as a delicate flower, but she's trying hard to prove her worth. I imagine even greater things are in store for her future.

In the end, I didn't end up liking this book as much as I thought I would. But! I'm still really looking forward to reading more. I think The Rose Throne will be most appreciated by a younger teen audience.

Content:
No profanity. There's a bit of *somewhat* mature kissing. There is some violence, but it's mostly just mentioned in passing to the best of my memory. There's a great deal of killing.

*I was provided an e-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Moon Over Edisto by Beth Webb Hart



Thomas Nelson (February 12, 2013) 320 pages

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

20 years ago, Mr. Bennett left his family to start a new one with his daughter's friend. All these years later, even after his death, his first family is struggling with hurt and confusion.

Julia is an artist, like her dad. She's engaged, but maybe not to the right guy. When her former friend, Marty, her dad's second wife, announces she has cancer, Julia has to decide if she is willing to return to Edisto to care for her 3 half-siblings during recovery time.

This book started a little slow for me. It actually took me a couple of attempts before getting into it. The chapters alternate between quite a few characters, and it took some time to sort through all of them. After I did, I actually enjoyed the many points of view.

Moon Over Edisto is a story of healing and forgiveness. It has a sad, overall tone to it. My heart went out to the children! They were so neglected, it just made me mad. While Marty is represented as a loving mother, it was shameful at the living conditions those children had to endure.

I enjoyed all the artistic references made! I don't have an artistic bone in my body, but I do enjoy reading about those who do. :)

Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't like the relationship progress in this story. In my opinion, when you have a fiance, you don't go on dates with other men. You also don't hug other men for comfort that you might have feelings for. Don't get me wrong. If you're having second thoughts about that fiance, by all means, don't marry him! I wish there was more honesty going on in regards to the fiance. Julia was cheating, in my opinion, even though there was no kissing while engaged. It was never addressed as such to satisfy me, in the end.

End Spoiler

If you enjoy slower books with a sad tone, tough issues, and little romance, Moon Over Edisto might be a good match for you. If you enjoy lighter, up beat Christian romance, I'd go elsewhere. In general, I tend to go more towards "light and fluffy". I did still find it enjoyable, though!

*I was provided a review copy through Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Classic Double Challenge: The Ryn by Serena Chase/ Snow White and Rose Red PLUS Cover Reveal!!!!!





Snow White and Rose Red by The Brothers Grimm

Until reading about "The Ryn", I didn't even know that there was a completely different Snow White story. I actually waited until after reading "The Ryn" to read through Snow White and Rose Red. (You can go to Surlalune Fairy Tales and read it if you don't know it.) It was interesting, to say the least! I'm looking forward to exploring more about this story now, though.



The Ryn (Eyes of E'veria)


My Rating: 5/5 stars

Description:

DESTINED by prophecy. GUARDED by deception. PURSUED by Love.

Centuries ago, an oracle foretold of the young woman who would defeat E’veria’s most ancient enemy, the Cobelds. But after two centuries of relative peace, both the prophecy and the Cobelds have been relegated to lore—and only a few remain watchful for the promised Ryn.

Finally, a child is born who matches the oracle’s description, but a Cobeld curse accompanies her birth. Led to believe they succeeded in killing the prophesied child, the Cobelds emerge from hiding with plans to overtake the Kingdom.

But the child survived.

Secreted away and called “Rose” for the first nineteen years of her life, Rynnaia E'veri has no idea of her true identity until a chance meeting with an injured knight reveals not only her parentage and true name, but the task assigned her by the oracle: discover the Remedy that will destroy the Cobelds' power.

Now, her time has come.

Offered the assistance of pirates, scribes, storytellers, a young woman who died centuries ago, and the knight who is quickly working his way into her heart, Rynnaia is fortified with friends. But if the Ryn is to complete her task, she must come to terms with not only who she is, but for whom she must be willing to die. For the kingdom’s survival depends on her.

My Thoughts:

This lady has got talent! I was blown away by The Ryn. Seriously, impressed y'all!

The various loves portrayed throughout The Ryn warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes. The knight in shining armor of this story was one of the sweetest men I've ever encountered in my reading.

The Ryn is full of knights and pirates(can't wait to read more about Cazien), scribes and magical beards. My favorite was the storytellers who could bring their characters "to life" with simply a breath across their palm. There's even candle-like walls and glowing "fish". Those little creatures stole my heart, for sure!

Fairytale re-tellings are my favorite kinds of reads, and The Ryn has been added to my favorites among those! I can't wait to read more in this series. As I read the fairy tale of Snow White and Rose Red, I couldn't help but smile at the little parts that Serena added into her story. Yet, she still kept it completely original! My only disappointment is that I have to wait for the next one!

*I won this book. I was NOT required to share thoughts about it, but am doing so, because I love it so much!


NOW FOR THE COVER REVEAL FOR "THE REMEDY"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




My favorite book covers are those that incorporate aspects of the story into it, and both of these covers have done a brilliant job of that. There's a great deal of details from the story(at least "The Ryn", since I haven't read "The Remedy" yet) on them!


"Nine marks stand guard to guide the way. Three tasks upon the Ryn will prey. Death stalks the path with fierce desire, and a council of four will light the pyre.

Having come to terms with her long-hidden identity, Princess Rynnaia E’veri is ready to take her rightful place. But before she can join her father at Castle Rynwyk, she must endeavor to fulfill a 200-year-old prophecy and defeat the Kingdom’s ancient enemy, the Cobelds. Joined by her faithful knight, Sir Julien de Gladiel, and a gifted group of friends, Rynnaia must trek a dangerous path through canyons, forests, and into the very depths of a mountain where, if the prophetic scrolls prove correct, she will face an unknown foe, alone. Treacheries will be discovered, sacrifices will be made, friends will be lost, and love will be tested, but if even one line of the riddled prophecy is misinterpreted, Rynnaia will fail . . . and the Kingdom will fall."


If you like fairy tales and/or fantasy at all, I highly recommend giving this series a try!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions and Unglued Devotional:60 Days of Imperfect Progressl by Lisa TerKeurst




Book:
Zondervan (August 7, 2012) 191 pages

Devotional:
Zondervan (December 18, 2012) 208 pages


My Thoughts:

A couple of years ago, I read and loved TerKeurst's Made to Crave. I couldn't wait to get my hands on Unglued, too. I really connect with Terkeurst, both in Unglued and Made to Crave. I found myself laughing as she described her thoughts or actions and related a little too much. Plus, she's very open and honest about her imperfections, which I always appreciate.

"All these reactions I've described are not things I'm proud of. Yuck, right? Yes, but these aren't labels I carry around with me. These are things I'm identifying about myself so I can bring my raw emotions and unglued reactions under the healing authority of Jesus. And it's also important to clarify that I'm only talking about my unglued reactions here. When my emotions are level, I am like the little girl in that movie, The Help, to whom the beloved Aibileen leans down and whispers, "You is kind. You is smart. You is important."
Jesus has made me a kind-hearted person, full of encouragement and eager to inspire any person who gets within ten feet of me. Jesus has made me smart enough to know that I need Him-desperately and fully. And Jesus has assigned all of us the important job of representing Him to this world, which means we re-present Him everywhere we go."

Becoming "unglued" doesn't necessarily involve raising one's voice! (Although, I do dream of one day being like Michelle Duggar in the fact that the madder she gets the lower her voice gets. Can't say I've achieved that yet). It could mean stuffing those feelings deep down inside, causing negativity to grow more and more. It could mean that negative thoughts and constant blaming are going on inside your head. It could mean taking these kinds of things(whether thoughts or actions) out on family/friends or strangers. We're all different! Terkeurst has a chapter explaining different kinds of "unglued" reactions and you can decide which one(s) most resemble you.

I bought the e-book version of the book Unglued(which is still only $3.79 as of this posting), but I was provided a review copy of the Unglued Devotional. I learned that the Unglued Devotional is pretty much the book broken up into 60 bite-sized pieces. Which one I recommend to you depends on what type of reader you are. I preferred the book. If you like doing little devotionals here and there or at a certain time each day, then the devotional might be best for you. I like devotionals fine, but I prefer sitting down with a book and reading as long as time will allow me. Plus, I'm not the best at reading a chapter a day kind of thing. I wish I was sometimes, and I do try it quite often. "Try" is the key word there!

Unglued was a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it. I think *most* of us come "unglued" in some way or another. ;)

"Some moms are equipped by the hand of God to be "that mom." They have been formed with the three-C gene - Cooking, Crafting, and Cleaning come easily and naturally to them.
Others of us have been delightfully chosen to provide the comic relief necessary to keep the world entertained. And to keep future therapists in business."

*As I mentioned above, I bought the book, but I was provided a review copy of the devotional in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell



Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2013) 400 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

When Lucy returned from a tour of Europe, she found her father in bed recovering from a heart attack. She also discovered her mother plotting behind his back to sell their beloved candy business. Of course, her mother is only thinking of the stress the business has caused him. Lucy makes a deal with her mother to give her a month to come up with a new candy that will steal the hearts of everyone away from their biggest competitor, Standard Manufacturing. Standard's best-selling candy, Royal Taffy, is one tough candy to outdo, though!

Charlie has allowed himself to be pulled in with the wrong crowd. He spends too much time in prison because of the job he has, but he has to provide for his mother. Charlie's dad left them to fend for themselves years before. When the opportunity arrives to work with his dad at Standard Manufacturing, he reluctantly agrees.

When Lucy and Charlie meet, they don't know that they are actually rivals. They soon learn the truth, though.

As much as I try to stay away from reviews of books I'm due to review, I couldn't help but see many of my blogger friends didn't like this book. I hate to say I was really dreading reading it. It was only with great reluctance that I finally knew I had to finally pick it up. I was pleasantly surprised! I liked it! I didn't love it, but I liked it.

I enjoyed it as a light, entertaining book. I was thrilled at the humor throughout. I snickered and even laughed quite a few times! I can't say that the main characters are my favorite ever, but they were entertaining. They were pretty selfish people, but they grow, as you would expect. I didn't overly like how everything was tied up at the end.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!

Was the candy recipe that Lucy comes up with at the end not the same thing that Sam and Jennie discovered? Wasn't it actually their recipe, not Lucy's? Did I miss something? I was trying to finish this book up while taking care of 3 little ones, so I may have missed some details.

END SPOILER ALERT

Overall, Unrivaled wasn't my favorite book of Mitchell's, but I still enjoyed it. Plus, I just love that pretty blue dress on the cover! ;)

*I was provided a review copy through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest opinion.



Celebrate Unrivaled with Siri Mitchell by entering to win a Kindle Fire and joining her on April 18th for a Facebook Author Chat Party!



Unrivaled-giveaway-300
 


One "swooning" winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • Vintage Candy Kit
  • Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell (one for you and one for a friend!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 17th. Winner will be announced at the "Unrivaled" Author Chat Facebook Party on 4/18. Connect with Siri, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be gift certificates, books, vintage candy kits, and more!



So grab your copy of Unrivaled and join Siri on the evening of the April 18th for a chance to connect with Siri and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I by Sandra Byrd



Howard Books (April 9, 2013) 336 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars(Favorite!)

My Thoughts:

Elin von Snakenborg starts out as a young, 16 year old young lady. She makes a long, cold journey with Sweden's Princess Cecelia to visit Queen Elizabeth in England. She soon meets an older man, and the prospect of marriage is on the horizon. She makes the difficult decision to stay in England as a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth, and takes on the English name, Helena. After all, her dowry has been gambled away, and her fiance is cheating with her sister. Staying in England looks much more promising than returning home to Sweden. She soon learns that all may not be as it seems, though.

It's rare that I keep books once I've read them. This whole series is one that I have gladly given a permanent spot on my keeper shelf. In fact, when writing this post, I discovered that I could not find the first book, To Die For. A panic induced house hunt was promptly put into place. I had recently moved all of my keeper books from upstairs to downstairs, since we use our downstairs space more often. When Jonathan asked why I was moving them, I told him looking at my favorite books make me happy. I'm sure all of you married ladies can guess his response. "Maybe you should look at them more often." He said it with a smile, so I'll forgive him. ;) During the move, it had gotten a little misplaced.

While this edition to the "Ladies in Waiting" series still has the same overall feel, it's also completely different. In the other two books, Meg and Juliana were ladies in waiting to King Henry's wives(Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Parr). In Roses Have Thorns, Helena is a lady in waiting to the actual Queen. Both her duties and the Queen's are different. Also, Helena's "happily ever after" comes halfway through this story, as opposed to the end. We all know there's no such thing as a perfect happily ever after! Right?! While the other two books proved the difficulty in finding the "happily ever after", Roses Have Thorns shows more of the difficulties after the "happily ever after". We have the opportunity to see just how difficult being a lady in waiting to the queen was. It put a tremendous strain on those women's marriage and family life.

I liked Helena! She was a bit more outspoken than an average lady during that time was allowed, but she also knew not to overstep her boundaries. She was courageous, and even let her temper show when the time came to show it(in my opinion). She wasn't perfect! She makes one particular decision involving her husband I didn't necessarily agree with. She was kind and generous, though, and I grew to like her more and more.

I've read a few books now pertaining to Queen Elizabeth, and Sandra's portrayal is by far my favorite! She kept Elizabeth's stern qualities, but added a softness to her that I enjoyed seeing. While she is also portrayed far from perfect(we all have flaws), she is portrayed in a way that made me think of her with respect. Her life involved many sacrifices and difficult decisions!

Overall, this is a beautiful edition to the "Ladies in Waiting" series, and my favorite book of Sandra's so far. While I highly recommend the whole series, Roses Have Thorns can be read perfectly fine as a standalone.

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Ladies in Waiting Series

Book 1:
To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn

Book 2:
The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr

Book 3:
Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I