Saturday, April 15, 2017

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Behind the Scenes (Apart from the Crowd, #1)Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are looking for a historical christian read with a lot of humor, run out and grab a copy of this book today!!

I may be mistaken but I'm pretty sure I've never read anything by Jen Turano prior to picking this one up to read. I am already anxiously awaiting the next story in this series as I love the style of writing Jen uses to convey her story. The humor in the book is very appropriate and a few times I even found myself snorting because the situation was so funny! Sometimes, they are even subtly funny, which to me makes it even more interesting.

Miss Permilia Griswold is a known wallflower in social circles. She bumbles through events and then faces the wrath of her step-mother and step-sister. They simply don't understand why Permilia insists on being frugal with her purchases, especially when it comes to social attire!! Imagine Miss Permilia's horror when Asher Rutherford comes here way at the largest social event of the year, held at the Vanderbilt mansion! Of course, she loses all sense of polite society graces and actually appears that she may have insulted the greatest fashion merchant in the area. Something really attracts Asher to Permilia and she to him and they find themselves dancing. Permilia manages to blunder through that as well and can only save Asher's reputation by composing an article utilizing her secret talents as Ms. Quill.

During a rather daring adventure during the Vanderbilt event, Permilia finds herself in a predicament, overhearing a plot that could change many events in coming days. How will she protect those she cares about?

There were so many elements in this book that made it extremely enjoyable. As previously mentioned, I loved the humor scattered throughout. Without trying to spoil too much, during a scene with the Huxley sisters, I couldn't help but think of a Miranda Lambert song ("Mama's Broken Heart"--even though the storyline of the song did not match their story) and it made a very serious situation a little humorous to me. I also loved the adventure scattered throughout this story. Permilia is full of sass and is surely a very independent woman of her time. The romance is subtle but the forces of attraction are very strong.

I would recommend this book to lovers of historical christian fiction who enjoy humor and romance. I am looking forward to the next book in this series!!

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing and Jen Turano for providing a complimentary review copy of this book through NetGalley. The thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Andi Saddles Up by Susan K. Marlow

Andi Saddles Up (Circle C Stepping Stones #1)Andi Saddles Up by Susan K. Marlow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's Andi's birthday and what she wants most is to have a new saddle for her horse, Taffy. She also wants to be able to ride her horse whenever and wherever she wants. She's opening her gifts and there isn't a new saddle anywhere among those gifts.

After awhile, Andi's brother calls from the barn and Andi sees a brand new saddle on her horse. Then her brother, Chad, takes her on a ride and shows her a spot she can call her own. Andi is so excited about this serene spot that Chad has shared with her and she spends hours there. During one particular day there, Andi hears someone riding up and sees a young girl about the same age as she. Andi hops down from the tree she's in to find out her new friend's name is Sadie. There's a problem though...Sadie is the daughter of the sheep herder across the way that is causing her family some issues with their land. Andi doesn't let that stop her from befriending the young girl.

Andi loves being able to ride her horse to her special spot and to meet up with her new friend there. One day, Andi learns that Sadie can ride bareback and do tricks on her horse. Andi has always wanted to learn to do that!! Sadie begins to show Andi how to do these tricks when something terrible happens. How will the families deal with this tragedy? Can peace ever be restored?

I recommend this book to young readers. There are many valuable lessons presented in this book that apply to today's kids, even though this happened back in the 1800's. It will also give a brief glimpse into what life was like 'back then'. I love how Andi and her family are not afraid to express their beliefs as well. We need more books like this one for our youth of today!!

Many thanks to Susan K. Marlow and Kregel Publishing for the complimentary copy of this book to review. All thoughts and recommendations are my own in this writing.

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Andi Under the Big Top by Susan K. Marlow

Andi Under the Big Top (Circle C Stepping Stones #2)Andi Under the Big Top by Susan K. Marlow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Andi is super excited as she sees all the posters going up around town about the upcoming circus. She's never been to the circus before, at least not that she remembers, until her older siblings remind her of the clowns. Suddenly, going to the circus doesn't have quite the thrill it once did, but Andi is still super excited to go!

Andi is in awe as she sees trick riders with their horses. One horse even looks like Taffy! Andi does wonder why the horses are not a matching pair but that thought quickly goes away when Miss Minnie Mae looks Andi's direction and waves. She's the coolest trick horse rider around!

Henry is a wee lad who is working in the circus. He befriends Andi and her siblings and Andi learns that he has a family. Andi also learns that his family is his aunt and uncle. Henry didn't want to work on their farm so he ran away and joined the circus. Henry quickly learned that circus life wasn't all that great and that some people were really mean. Henry misses his family dearly and wants to go back but cannot afford the train ticket home. He also isn't sure his aunt and uncle would want him back.

Good thing Andi has a brother who's an attorney!! Andi shares Henry's story with her brother and wheels start moving. Will Henry ever be able to go back home? What will Andi think of the circus?

I love that this book was written for youngsters from a historical perspective. There just aren't enough books out there covering these time periods for today's youth. I also love how this book does have a slight, but not overbearing, religious tone to it. It's obvious that Andi and her family are believers. I would highly recommend this book to young readers as it will give them a great story with historical perspective.

Many thanks to Kregel Publishing and Susan K. Marlowfor providing a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. These thoughts and recommendation are entirely my own.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

To the Farthest ShoresTo the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Camden is a writer who is fairly new to me (I've read one other book that she's penned) but she never disappoints! I love how she weaves elements of intrigue, romance, and delight into an elegant story. This story was a fast read for me as I had a very hard time putting it down.

I feel in love with Jenny right off the bat. Jenny is a civilian nurse who is working in a military hospital. She works the dreaded night shift, because that's what they do to civilian nurses. Jenny loves her job and loves her patients. She is very dedicated and committed to her calling. Six years ago, Jenny met and fell in love with Ryan Gallagher.

I had a hard time liking Ryan at all through this story. I'm sure deep down he's a really great guy but I really don't like what he did to Jenny. I guess maybe I took this story a little personal because of an experience I once had with a military person. I do struggle with whether or not what he did was considered being unfaithful, however. In today's terms, I don't think it would have been at all. My heart breaks for what Jenny endured, and what she continued to endure. I am happy for the way things turned out in the end and feel that Jenny could finally begin her healing process.

My favorite part of this story was learning more about the pearl industry. During the time of this story, the pearl industry was really just beginning in terms of technology. Reading about the process of a forming pearl and ways that biotechnology were being used even back then were truly fascinating to me.

I would recommend this book to lovers of christian-fiction and those who enjoy historical stories!

My thanks and appreciation to the publisher and the author for providing a complimentary copy for me to review in exchange for my remarks. I was not compensated financially in any way for my review and these thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

The Noble Servant (A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3)The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Noble Servant is a fairy re-telling of the Goose Girl story. I don't believe I've ever read this story (gasp!) before and as I was reading this book, I didn't have anything to compare it to as other reviewers have.

I absolutely love a good fairy tale and this one is no exception. This is the story of Lady Magdalen (I just love that name!!) and Duke Steffan. They are both in the wrong place at the wrong time and things get really messy really fast! Lady Magdalen has her sites set on marrying Duke Steffan and when a letter arrives to her home requesting she come marry him, she jumps at the chance! I mean, who wouldn't want to marry a Duke! On her quest to reach her future husband's home, Magdalen is hijacked by her ladies maid and the maid's father and is demanded to change places with Agnes. Fearing for her life, Lady Magdalen complies and ends up becoming the Goose Girl at the castle. Can she stop the wedding of her ladies maid to the Duke? Whatever will she do?

This is the third book in a series of medieval fairy tales. I have not read the other 2 books so I'm not sure if these characters appear in other novels by Melanie Dickerson or not. However, I did not feel like I was missing any pieces by reading a book "out of order". I love Ms. Dickerson's writing style and how she weaves a great story! There is romance, suspense, and even a few comical moments throughout.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it!

I did receive a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert

Maybe It's You (Crisis Team #3)Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Candace Calvert has done it again!! Writing a witty, romantic, and sometimes deep, tangled mess of a relationship book is her specialty! Sprinkle in some nursing action from her lead heroine and you have the perfect book!

I had taken a bit of a reading break (almost a year!!) and came back to pick this one up. Sloane is a mysterious woman who's an amazing nurse. She cares above and beyond for her patients and her co-workers to the point that Micah is incredibly intrigued by her. Sloane has sworn off ever having a relationship again and has thrown herself completely in her work, wanting a strong sense of privacy. Micah sets out to do anything but give Sloane privacy. He sees her as the next face of the hospital and will do what he can to make sure she receives that honor.

These characters are so real that they could be your next door neighbors. I felt a lot like Sloane in many ways and understood her need for privacy (but for much different reasons). I understood why she did what she did for Zoey. I'd do the same. Micah reminded me of so many people I have worked with over the years. They come across as snooty and only out for themselves but after cracking the shell and getting to really know them, you see them as someone with a tender and caring heart. I love how these characters bare their souls to each other and get through the dark times together.

If you've never read a Candace Calvert book, please do yourself a favor and pick up any of her stories. You'll be happy you did!!

Many thanks to Tyndale House Publishers and Candace Calvert for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sisters of the Veil by Bryan M. Powell

Sisters of the VeilSisters of the Veil by Bryan M. Powell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

INTENSE!!!!! Those are the first words that come to my mind about this book! From the very beginning sentence to the period closing this story up, I was on the edge of my seat. Bryan M. Powell is new to me and came recommended by my friend, Jessie. I met Mr. Powell at an event and spent some time talking to him about the various books he has penned. I opted to start with the Jared Russell Series because it seems so relevant to today's times! I'm so glad I chose this one to start with and I'm looking forward to the next book (I bought the entire series after meeting Mr. Powell!).

Jared Russell is a former Marine who is commissioned to work on building the new mosque that is going up in town. Being a Christian man, Jared isn't sure about this task but uses his knowledge of the Word and of the beliefs of the Muslim people to help guide him in his daily tasks. He has a great crew of workers, who are eager to finish the task on time, but who also demand to take their religious prayer activities throughout the day as well. Jared is blessed with two secretaries, Shirin and Fatemah, who are his eyes and ears in the office.

Little did Jared know, a radical Muslim cleric is on the way to ensure the final completion of the Mosque. Boy did things change then!! Jared's job becomes even more challenging and he becomes the source of multiple death threats. Will Jared be able to maintain his Christianity and show these Muslim people the love of the Lord?

I know I gave you a very brief synopsis of this story but I truly could not share more without giving too much away! This story will take you on a ride through the eyes of Jared and the struggles he goes though in terms of his beliefs and working with people who don't believe as he does.

A few things of note for my readers....

I do disagree with the approach used in this book for conversion. I have yet to see the Sinner's Prayer in the Bible. I do believe that one must Hear the Word (Romans 10:17), Believe on the Word (Matthew 16:16, John 8:24, Acts 16:30-31), Repent of those sins (Luke 24:47, 2 Cor. 7:10, Acts 2:37-38), Confess their sins publicly (Matt. 16:16, Matt. 10:32-33; Romans 10:8-10; Acts 8:35-38), and be Baptized (immersed) (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Col. 2:12; Acts 22:16) for the forgiveness of sins. Then and only then do I believe, as the Bible points out, that one is saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

I learned several new things about the Muslim religion that I had never heard of before. I also did not realize that it was so prevalent in the state of Michigan that there were lawsuits to make Sharia Law the law of the land there. Reading this book and the author's notes to follow has me curious as to how many other states have seen these lawsuits.

I have a few Muslim friends but I've never felt comfortable enough to ask them some of the questions I have had in the past. I feel like I could have a more open dialogue with those friends now (If you're reading this, let's meet up for lunch and chat!). This book is written from the perspective of the strict, tyrannical, radical Muslims. It should be understood that not all people will react or act as those in this book did (and not everyone in the book was a radical!)

I appreciate the opportunity to read this book and I am eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series. I would encourage you to also check out other titles Mr. Powell! If you are ever in the Hiram, GA area, Mr. Powell owns a book store. It's worth your time to stop in and say "Hi!" if you're ever in the area.

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