Thursday, October 24, 2013

Glittering Promises By Lisa T. Bergren Book Review

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// Glittering Promises //
 
The Grand Tour Series // Book #3
 
By Lisa T. Bergren
 
{Review By Bethany}
 
Title: Glittering Promises
Series: The Grand Tour Series, Book #3 {Final book}
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Source: Litfuse Publicity Group Review Copy from the Publisher
Number of Pages: 464
ISBN: 1434764281
Publisher: David C. Cook
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Bethany's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
 
// Book Synopsis //

"Lisa T. Bergren’s popular Grand Tour series concludes as Cora Kensington journeys farther into Italy, wrestles with a terrible ultimatum from her father, and comes to terms with the Father who will never fail her.

America’s newest heiress must decide if her potential fortune is rationale enough to give up her freedom and all that God is leading her toward. And when her newly-discovered siblings are threatened with ruin, her quandary deepens. Then as Cora nears Rome, more journalists are track the news story of the decade—“Copper Cora,” the rags-to-riches girl—and want to know more about her family and the men vying for her attention. Meanwhile, a charming Italian countess decides that if Cora isn’t going to claim Will’s heart, she might just try..."

// Bethany's Book Review //
 
What a splendid completion of The Grand Tour Series! I was absolutely swept away in the story, and found it to be an even better completion to the series than I'd first anticipated, leaving me in delighted awe once I finished the story! For sure Glittering Promises is my favorite book out of all the novels in The Grand Tour series, and I just loved the way the tour ended as well as how Cora came to "find" herself in Christ after struggling with her identity in the previous books.
 
I just loved how this book was so developed. The story line as well as characters were described in such vivid details that I felt as if I were there with the group touring Rome, Pompeii, etc. I also loved how the character development was written in the whole series, and particularly the final book, as I felt like in the first book Glamorous Illusions Cora was at a loss as to knowing who she truly was, both as a person and as a child of God. By the time I'd closed Glittering Promises I felt like Cora had came to terms with realizing who she was as an individual, and how treasured she was as a daughter of the King of kings, and it made the story all the more enjoyable for me.
 
Another delight for me was seeing the progress between the two men desiring Cora's heart - Will and Pierre. As I read, I felt just as torn between picking a side as Cora was! It was so interesting though to see how things worked out, and really taught a valuable lesson, while also adding to the delight of the end of the story, making it all the more sweet.
 
Another thing I found enjoyable in this read is how Cora came to find herself in Christ. I loved how even though Cora was going through a difficult time, she set her foundations on Christ, making everything around her less shaky. I was very interesting in seeing if her Christianity would be further developed before the series ended after reading the first two books, and think Lisa really accomplished that.
 
For sure this was my favorite book in the series, and like I said earlier, a wonderful completion to the series! While it was a rather long book at over 400 pages long, I didn't really notice as the pages just flew by. There was plenty of mystery and danger in the book, keeping things rolling at a fast pace, and along with seeing old characters once again, as well as the history bits that were also in the story, I just found it to be a delightful read! I would highly recommend this book to any history lovers, or to Lisa Bergren fans, as this is a must read for historical fiction fans and the ultimate Grand Tour of Europe with a wonderful story line to go along with it! However, I will say that if you've not read the first two books in the series, Glamorous Illusions or Grave Consequences, then it's a very much a big "must" as without previously reading those two, this book won't make any sense!
 
N O T E :: I'd like to sincerely thank Litfuse Publicity Group, David C. Cook Publishers as well as Lisa Bergren for the opportunity to receive a complementary copy of Glittering Promises to read and review. I was not paid to read this book or write this review, and was not required to give a good review if I honestly didn't like the book. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own; completely honest and unbiased.
 
Enter Today | 10/10 - 10/29!
Glittering Promises Lisa T. Bergren

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Return To Me By Lynn Austin Book Review

17384512 // Return To Me //
 
The Restoration Chronicles Book #1
 
By Lynn Austin
 
{Review By Bethany}

Title: Return To Me
Series: The Restoration Chronicles // Book 1
Author: Lynn Austin
Source: Bethany House Book Review Program
Number of Pages: 459
ISBN: 0764208985
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Bethany's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
 
// Book Synopsis //

"After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo's prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God's chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain.

Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers.

Bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, "Return to Me" tells the compelling story of Iddo and Zechariah, the women who love them, and the faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home."

// Bethany's Book Review //
 
Return to Me is an epic novel based on the Old Testament in the Holy Bible, which is the first in the well anticipated Restoration Chronicles series from author Lynn Austin!
 
This is the second book I've read by Lynn Austin, and I was very pleased with it! I was very intrigued when I first heard about this book, since there aren't a lot of biblical fiction novels out there; so I was very eager to read it. Turns out, Austin doesn't disappoint, and gives a wonderfully written epic novel that is very close to the original stories found in the Old Testament. This was very important for me, as I want it to be as close to the original as possible; and I think that Lynn Austin did a excellent job with this novel. Now I'm very eager to read the second book in the series!
 
While this book was rather long (around 450 pages), it covered about 20 years of the characters lives, and had excellent character development. I personally loved getting to view well known Bible stories in a new light, as you get to see other issues and things going on at that time to compare against the story, which really helped me see the story of the early Christians' while in captivity and after being released to re-build the Temple; in a different light. This book did a wonderful job of reminding me how even though the Old Testament can seem boring and irrelevant at times, how it really contains such important stories of those who lives long ago-stories we will do well not to forget. For history that is forgotten is sure to repeat itself.  I would highly encourage anyone who is having a "dry" time in the Old Testament, to read this book as it is definitely refreshing "water" to a quenched soul. I was actually reading from Isaiah for my daily devotions for the Bible in A Year program during the time I was reading this book; and it was very helpful to be reading Return to Me at the same time, as things such as the Israelites customs, sacrificial schedule, way of living, etc. all the sudden influences how I read from Isaiah. It helped me to understand Isaiah better since I was able to see the background and the bigger picture, as well as contributed to a overall better time reading from my Bible as it didn't seem as dry having read a fictionalized story based from that time.
 
I really enjoyed meeting the characters, Iddo, and his family and friends, in this story and following their journey from being captives in Babylon to being freed and re-building King Solomon's Temple-which is a task that is far easier said than done. Throw in some antsy pagan neighbors trying to influence you for bad and even kill you, and a difficulty getting permission from the King to rebuild, and add that to everyday life in the village and you've got yourself a very interesting novel.
 
I liked how Lynn wrote this book to give the perspective from each of the characters, and how she would usually switch out perspectives each chapter, with the chapter coming from the view of a different person each time-giving you a very well-rounded idea of the characters and their most secret thoughts that would otherwise be unknown. I loved getting to see how the characters changed over the years and grew closer to Christ though struggles, and it really encouraged me.
 
Overall, I loved this refreshing novel from Lynn Austin, and can't wait for book two and book three in the series, to continue the journey! I would highly recommend this book to Austin fans or fans of biblical fiction, as it is a epic read that is both refreshing and enriching!
 
N O T E :: I received a free copy of Return to Me from the publisher, to read and review. I was not required to give a good review, if I didn't like the book, and was not paid in any way for reading and reviewing this book. All thoughts expressed in my review are completely honest and unbiased.

Home To Heather Creek Series By Kathleen Bauer Blog Tour

/ / Home To  Heather Creek, By Kathleen Bauer / /

{Before The Dawn, Book 1}


{Reviews By Madi}

Title: Before The Dawn
Author: Kathleen Bauer
Source: Review Book From Litfuse
Number Of Pages: 280
ISBN: 978-0-8249-3424-8
Publisher: Guidepost
Publication Date: 2012
Madi's Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

/ / Book Description / /

Charlotte Stevenson's world is turned upside down by the death of her daughter Denise. Denise ran away from home as a teenager, and Charlotte has never forgiven herself. Now, Denise's three children are coming to live on Heather Creek Farm: Sam, fiercely protective of his younger siblings; Emily, desperately missing her friends; and young Christopher, a sweet soul who wants to fit in. Is this Charlotte's  chance to make things right?
While Charlotte helps the grandchildren she barely knows adjust to their new life, she also wrestles with her own greif and insecurity. What if she makes the same mistakes this time around?
But small joys remind Charlotte that God gives grace freely, even in trying times. The miracles of new life, along with God's healing touch, remind all of them that it's always darkest before the dawn.
 

/ / Madi's Book Review / /

  When Charlotte Stevenson's daughter Denise passes away unexpectedly, she brings her three grandchildren to live with her and her husband, Bob, at Heather Creek Farm. She made a few mistakes when she was raising her own three children, and she doesn't want a repeat with her grandchildren. She tries a few new parenting tactics, but Bob is old and set in his ways. He figures that if it was good enough for his kids than it's good enough for his grandkids. Charlotte struggles with getting these kids back on track, and insecurities in her abilities reach a breaking point. Are her peers right? Is she too old for this after all?
 
Sam is an impressionable sixteen-year-old boy that loves skateboards and city streets. He is extremely protective of his little siblings, and he thinks he has to be the strong one. He never gives himself time to grieve his mother's death, and when anyone brings her up he just gets mad. His only goal is to find his long lost father and get the heck off of this farm.
 
Emily is fourteen, and just like all fourteen-year-old girls, she's more worried about friends than just about everything else. She feels like life just isn't fair. Her mother died, she gets moved away from all of her friends, she has her phone taken away, she can't talk to her younger brother about missing her mom because she has to be strong for him, and she can't talk about her with her older brother because he just gets angry with her. She just wants things to go back to the way they were before the accident that so drastically changed her life.
 
Christopher is a sweet little ten-year-old boy with a love for both animals and people. He's very easy to please, and he rarely ask for anything. He's quiet, and likes to spend most of his extra time in the barn tending to the new litter of kittens.
 
This patched together family has to do their best to live in love and faith, and to make the best of their new lifestyles. There are always bumps in the road, but with God's help anything is possible.
 
~
 
This book was a little slow at first, but it picked up pretty quickly. It was by no means a suspenseful/page turner, but I still enjoyed it. The value of this book lay in the moral that it shares, and not necessarily it's entertainment value. I loved how God was incorporated into it's pages, and the fact that the story is set in small town USA gives it a few extra brownie points. ;) .
 I would recommend this book to someone looking for a shorter book to read over the weekend.
 
/ / Favorite Quotes From This Book / /
 
"Life is pain, princess. Anyone who says differently is selling you something."
 
"Brother and sister had their disagreements, but it hadn't taken long for Charlotte to realize that when outside forces intervened, they circled the wagons and protected each other."
 

{Sweet September, Book 2}

 
 
 
Title: Sweet September
Author: Kathleen Bauer
Source: Review Book From Litfuse
Number Of Pages: 246
ISBN: 978-0-8249-3425-5
Publisher: Guidepost
Publication Date: 2013
Madi's Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
 
 
/ / Book Description / /
 
Harvest at Heather Creek Farm is an exciting time; the earth burst with life, providing sustenance for the coming winter. However, the Slater children don't seem to be getting into the spirit: Emily is struggling with farm life, Christopher spends most of his time alone, and Sam is failing school. Charlotte is determined not to make the same mistakes she did with her own kids, but how can she get her grandchildren back on track?
Then the vegetable garden by the  house is uprooted one night. Who could have done such a thing? Charlotte is determined to uncover the truth, and as they all pull together to find answers, they learn more about one another and the love that binds them. As this cobbled-together family adjusts to their new life, they find hope for their future in the lessons of their past.
 
 
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
 
 This book was so sweet! The first book was basically just an introduction to the characters and Heather Creek Farm, where as this one had a more interesting story. Burglars in the night, school problems, new friends, faith, family and love. This one has it all. And the characters were so much more lovable this time around! They were pretty used to their new way of life, and it was a lot easier to see their personalities in a new light. I loved Christopher's adventurous spirit, Emily's easy to relate to personality, Sam and Pete's good work ethic, and Charlotte's caring and generous heart. But I would have to say that if I had to pick a favorite character, I would choose Grandpa (Bob). He reminds me so much of my own Paw-Paw. He's been a hard worker his entire life, but now that he's getting older he can't do as much. He's having a hard time letting his son take over some of the more important responsibilities that comes with running a farm. The only good thing that comes out of his lack of farming work is that he gets to spend more time with his grandkids. Though he has a tough exterior, he's just a big teddy bear. If he was real, I would definitely give him a huge hug.
 
It's harvest season, and at Heather Creek that means barrels and barrels of work. Harvesting, canning, cleaning, the chore list is never ending. Even though it is a time of hard, back breaking work, it's also a time to reflect on the past year and be grateful for such a bountiful harvest. At least it is for Charlotte, Bob and Pete. The kids aren't feeling it though. You have to realize, these kids grew up in the city. Like, BIG city, lots of cars, a mall on every corner. They aren't used to having to work for their keep, but they learn pretty quickly that farm life isn't for the weak.
 
My favorite thing about this book was the message that it sent to me as a reader. Compassion. This book is full of it. I loved the historical aspect that was provided on this family's lineage, and how it helped along the story. I loved how these people who weren't exactly rich financially but were rich in love would do anything for anyone in need. I wish more books would include things like that. I can't recommend this series enough. It may not be considered fast paste, but you will still love it. I did.
 
 
 ~Madi For The Literary Maidens 
 
 Note: I was provided a free copy of each of these books by the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my thoughts. I was not required to give this book a good rating, and all thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own and totally unbiased.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Captive Maiden By Melanie Dickerson Book Reviews

17679368
// The Captive Maiden //
 
By Melanie Dickerson
 
{Reviews By Bethany & Madi}
 
Title: The Captive Maiden
Series: Fairy Tales // Book #4
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Source: ARC review copy from the publisher
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 0310724414
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: November 19th, 2013
Bethany's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Madi's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
 
// Book Synopsis //
 
"Happily Ever After ...Or Happily Nevermore? Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke's son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have.

To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined."
 
// Bethany's Book Review //

Ever since I heard that Melanie Dickerson was writing a novel based on the classic fairy tale Cinderella, I knew I really, really wanted to read it. I love Cinderella, and I love Melanie Dickerson's novels even more, so the two combined make a sparkly fairy tale treat that didn't disappoint! Needless to say, I was pretty pumped about this book! And after reading it, I can say that this book completely reached my high expectations! This novel is for sure a read that any princess-lover shouldn't miss, as it definitely brings out the inner princess in every girl with a magical story that captures you from page one.
 
Everything about this book was so...princess-y. I know that sounds rather funny being that...you guessed it, it's based on a princess story. Obviously it is expected to be girly with the pretty clothes, high heels and jewelry and overall-princess theme. But what I mean by this is that it's totally a girly book and takes the whole princess deal to the highest level-which I just loved since I'm a total girl who likes to embrace femininity. Everything about this book, the storyline, the characters, the plot, clothing, setting, etc. just has a magical princess feel to it that makes a ultimate princess experience. All the little things like the jousting matches, the adventure, the gorgeous clothing, the ball, it all just added so much to the story and made you feel like you where in the time period.
 
I loved the twist that Melanie put so skillfully into this timeless classic story. I think the way she wrote this novel was just pure brilliance, because she knew what to keep from the story and what to leave out and replace with a little something of her own. She just wove the combination of the details from Cinderella and her own bits to make it all mesh together in a splendid way that really enhances the classic tale and makes you realize dreams do come true.
 
I also enjoyed how well developed the characters were, and their personalities. Especially Valten.  He was just the perfect prince to me. He was extremely respectful and a hard worker, and had so many wonderful characteristics that would make any girl swoon. His character was so sturdy and he was just a hero. I also loved Gisela. I felt like I connected with her and felt her pain, but at the same time rejoiced in how she handled her hardships and found out in the end that her positivity in the difficult situation made her story end happily. I just loved how even when things weren't going so great, she wasn't at home complaining about it and had a good attitude towards it. In the end it paid off.
 
Overall I just adored this novel, and it was just a delight to read! I really, really hope that Melanie continues to bring us more fairy tale inspired novels, as they are just such fun to read! Although a bit unrealistic (as all fairy tales are) I loved all the action and adventure in this story, and was hardly able to put this book down. I'd highly recommend this novel to any teen girl who loves the classic Cinderella story!

 
// Madi's Book Review //
 
Oh. My. Gosh. It's finally here! I have been waiting for this book to release ever since its announcement. I love Melanie Dickerson! She's one of my favorite authors. I have read ALL of her books, and I adored them all. This is the fourth book that Melanie has written, and I sincerely hope there will be more to follow! The author's first book was a spin-off of Beauty And The Beast, her second book was a spin-off of Sleeping Beauty, her third book was a spin-off of Snow White, and her newest release (The Captive Maiden) is a spin-off of Cinderella! The best thing about these books is that though they are inspired by children's fairy tales, they are not at all childish. This is a wonderful series for teenage girls and females of all ages! I would like to point out before I go any further that though these books are all written princess style, and they have small connections and links between each novel, each of them can be read as a stand-alone book. Each book is about a completely different person, and you won't feel like you're missing out on something if you read them out of order. There might be the occasional reference about someone from another book, but for the most part the characters from each of the books, have very little contact with the others. So, basically, if you want to read one of these books really bad, but are afraid that you might miss something if you read it before another one by this author, don't be! That being said, lets continue.
 
I love the amount of time the author spent in making every little detail lovable. The evil step-mother, the back-stabbing-step-sisters, the prince in disguise, all these things and more added to the age old tale of "Cinderella", (or should I say, "Gisella"?).
 
Gisella is a young orphan girl. Her mother died when she was two, so she has little, to no memory of her, but her father didn't die until she was seven. Her father owned a horse business, and he passed down his love of horses to his little daughter. One day, the Duke and his eldest son came to purchase a horse for the young boy to ride in the jousting tournaments that he competed in, and Gisella never forgot him. When her step-mother would lock her in her room, or make her do chores that were unsuitable for such a young girl, or if her step-sisters were just making a nuisance of themselves, she would think of young Valten, and for a moment, she left behind reality and lived where dreams come true. Gisella grows up to be a very beautiful woman, both in appearance and in heart. Though she has next to nothing in material possessions, everyone adores her for the gracious heart that God gave and nurtured in her.
 
Valten is still stung from being jilted by his betrothed. It's not like he actually loved her or had feelings for her, because he had never met her, but the thought of losing her to his kid brother, Gabe, made him madder than a hornet. He was used to winning at everything and gaining whatever he desired, (not in a bratty, selfish way, but in a hardworking and deserving way). When he meets Gisella, his heart takes a turn, and he starts to think about things other than tournaments and politics. Maybe it was time he came back home for good, took a wife, and started learning at his father's side so that he would be prepared for the fate that the future held for him as Duke of Hagenheim.
 
Gisella and Valten go on many an adventure together, and they experience some close calls, but something about almost losing your life next to someone makes you bond like you could never imagine.
 
I know I say this a lot, but this is one of the best books that I have read all year, and I mean it. Sword fighting, romance, princess and plotting family members all contributed to making this novel a story worth reading. I read it in less than a day, and I know that I will definitely be reading it again in the future (which is saying something, because I rarely re-read books). I would recommend this book to anyone with a soft spot for medieval romances and historical fictions. I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did!
 
N O T E :: We would like to sincerely thank Zondervan publishers for providing us both with an Advanced Reading Copy of The Captive Maiden for review purposes. We were not paid to w rite these reviews, and were not required to give a good review if we didn't like the book. All thoughts expressed in our reviews are completely honest and unbiased.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gunpowder Tea By Margaret Brownley Book Review

/ / Gunpowder Tea / /

/ / The Brides Of Last Chance Ranch / /

 
{Review By Madi}
 
Title: Gunpowder Tea
Author: Margaret Brownley
Source: Booksneeze
Number Of Pages: 327
ISBN: 978-1-59554-972-3
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
 
 
/ / Book Description / /
In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life.

When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom – an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch.

But she isn’t the only one there with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is working the scene undercover as well. And although their true identities are a secret, it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the spark that flares between them.

But neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn’t removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they come to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets – and no one on the ranch is safe.

But neither are their hearts – the longer Miranda and Jeremy spends working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers – and their lives – depend on solving this case. Love will have to wait.
 
 
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
Miranda Hunt is a Pinkerton Detective in the year 1897, and she is proud to be walking in her father's footsteps. She has always been Pinkerton's (Pink for short) last resort. She always got the missions that no one else wanted. Until now. Since she is one of two women in the detective business, so she is the only one who can accomplish the job of catching the "Phantom". The Phantom is a professional robber and thief, and he somehow always seems to escape the authorities. Miranda answers and ad in the paper advertising for an heiress to Last Chance Ranch. She goes undercover as Annie Beckham, and begins her investigation as soon as she arrives at the ranch. There is only one problem. Her train headed to Last Chance is robbed during her journey, and after she becomes a fixed part of the ranch, she realizes that the new hand that Mrs. Walker brought on is really one of the thieves from the train robbery. But something just doesn't fit. Branch doesn't seem like the thieving type, but she knows by experience that he is, in fact, a thief. A very handsome thief.
 
*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD*
 
Jeremy Taggart (A.K.A Branch), is also a detective, but not from Pink. He's a Wells Fargo agent. Wells Fargo and Pinkerton are arch rivals, and having an agent from each company makes for some interesting scenes. He was hired on as a ranch hand to blend into the ordinary lives of the people around these parts, but he is no rancher, and he's tired of being considered a thief by the pretty Annie Beckham. He just wants to finish this case and move on, or he's liable to get off of his horse and walk like a penguin for the rest of his life. 
 
When the two good guys suspect each other of being the Phantom, things get heated. When they discover each other's true identities, they start to doubt their abilities (sort of). How can they catch the bad guy if they can't even read the good ones?
 
~
 
I REALLY enjoyed this book. The first thing that grabbed my attention about this novel is its title. "Gunpowder Tea" just sounds like such a Southern, relatable book. Being a Texan myself, I was especially drawn to it. Another thing that I liked about this book was its characters. Annie is such a spitfire, and she refuses to be outdone or beat. Considering Annie and I have similar personalities, it was pretty easy for me to imagine myself in her situation, and soon I was so engrossed in my book that I paid no notice to what was going on around me. And Branch! Oh my gosh! For a fictional character, he sure knows how to make a girl swoon. In my humble opinion there is nothing finer than a man that acts like a gentleman. I would recommend this book to just about any female that loves the South, tea, and guns.
 
/ / Favorite Quotes From Gunpowder Tea / /
 
"A gullible fool can locate a swindler faster than the smartest private eye in the world."
 
"A private eye's best friend is a woman with a secret too good to keep."
 
"In God we trust; all others will be treated as suspects."
 
"He also lectured on ways to turn away wrath with a gentle answer. Ha! Some people didn't know a gentle answer from a turnip."
 
"Politeness and inflection were all well and good but some callers need to be put in their places."
 
"A woman without a secret is like a rose without fragrance."
 
"Making accusations without proof is like throwing a rope without a loop."
 
"Suspicion ain't proof unless you're married."
 
"Politeness is more effective when combined with a gun."
 
"An honest thief is about as rare as clean socks in a bunkhouse."
 
"Confession might be good for the soul but it doesn't do much for one's reputation."
 
"That's the problem with suspicion. Once it takes root there ain't no stoppin' it. Colors everythin'. Suspicion makes every rock look like a monster."
 
"If God was small enough to understand, I reckon He wouldn't be big enough to worship."
 
~Madi For The Literary Maidens
 
Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts and sentiments expressed in this post are completely my own and totally unbiased.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Burning Sky By Lori Benton Book Review

/ / Burning Sky / /

/ / Review By Madi / /

 
Book Title: Burning Sky
Author: Lori Benton
Source: Blogging For Books
Number Of Pages: 404
ISBN: 978-0-307-73147-0
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
 
/ / Book Description / /
“I remember the borders of our land, though I have been gone from them nearly half the moons of my life. But who there will remember me? What I have seen, what I have done, it has changed me.

I am the place where two rivers meet, silted with upheaval and loss.

Yet memory of our land is a clear stream. I shall know it as a mother knows the faces of her children. It may be I will find me there.“


Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage--the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?
 
 
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
 Burning Sky is a novel about a woman who was kidnapped as a young girl at the age of fourteen by Indians. She was raised as one of them and became an accepted part of their community. She even married an Indian man and had two daughters. Unfortunately, Willa's husband was killed in battle, and she lost her two darling daughters to a smallpox epidemic. Willa has decided that from now on she will live alone and care for herself. She couldn't bear to fall in love again only to have that person ripped from her firm grasp soon after. Willa is a strong woman (stronger than some men), and she is fully convinced that she is capable of taking care of herself and toiling her father's land. On her way back to her childhood home, she comes across a stranger on the road in dire need of medical care. She carries him to what once was her father's cabin and tends to him there. She soon discovers that this man, this Neil, is a doctor and a botanist, and that he has a very strong spirit. Though his short-term injuries leave him unable to help her much around her farm, he does whatever he can to ease her burden.
 
Neil realizes that once his hand and ribs are healed properly that he will be expected to leave, but with each passing day he finds that reality harder and harder to accept. He has quickly come to care for this strong, vivacious woman, and he needs to convince her that they need to be together before she puts him out on his keester.
 
~
 
This is a really good book! Once I finally sat down and applied myself to reading it (I haven't been in a reading mood lately), it hardly took any time at all for me to finish it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading as Willa defended the home that she knew for a fact to be hers. Who was behind her parent death? Who burned their barn to the ground? Who burned Willa's crops? Who tried to kill the children that she had accepted as her own? All these questions are reeling through Willa's mind as she tries to make ends-meet and keep her friends and herself out of trouble and danger. Though this book is pretty long, it's so interesting that even the slowest reader would have no trouble with finishing it quickly. I would recommend this book a thousand times over.
 
~Madi For The Literary Maidens
 
Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts and sentiments expressed in this post are completely my own and totally unbiased.

A Christmas Gift For Rose By Tricia Goyer Book Review

/ / A Christmas Gift For Rose / /

/ / Review By Madi / /

 
Book Title: A Christmas Gift For Rose
Author: Tricia Goyer
Source: The Litfuse Publicity Group
Number Of Pages: 183
ISBN: 978-0-310-33678-5
Publisher: Zondervan
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
 
/ / Book Description / /
Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But as she prepares to marry, she's thrown into confusion when she learns the truth of her birth. She was born Englisch and abandoned when the family moved on in search of work.

Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind---Englischers? And was her intended's gift of discovering her birth family given out of love or fear?
 
 
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
 What a sweet way to start off the season! I know that Thanksgiving and Christmas are a while away yet, but this cooler weather is making me long for those lengthy winter days. A Christmas Gift For Rose was just the thing I needed to transition from Summer to Fall. Reading Christmas novellas  is one of my favorite cool weather activities (right after highschool football - Go KACS Knights!). Christmas is my favorite holiday (I'm sure many of you feel the same way). I'm the kind of person that will sit on my coach wearing sweatpants in the middle of June to watch a Hallmark-Christmas-Movie-Marathon. I just can't get enough of it! Before you know it my family will be gathering around the fireplace, drinking hot chocolate. It gives me joy just to think about it! But I digress.
 
Rose was raised in an Amish home, and she loved every minute with her family. The only thing dimming her joy was her beau, Jonathan. The Amish believed war was wicked, and contributing to it was an unforgiveable transgression. When Jonathan ran off to enlist as a medic on the battlefield, Rose was crushed. Though he never shot a single bullet, he was still supporting battle, wasn't he? Rose wondered if he could ever be content to get back into his old Amish life-style after tasting a bit of the outside world. She dreaded anything that had to do with the English (non-Amish), and here was the man she had planned on marrying fighting with them!
 
Once Jonathan returned home, at first, Rose would have nothing to do with him. Though she still had feelings for him, she refused to let him be such a big part of her life again. Then one day that all changed. Rose found out something surprising about herself that made her take a step back and reconsider her views on English people. Had she been wrong? Could there be more to life than being a respected member of her community? Feeling like she didn't have a place in the world where she belonged, Rose started a journey toward peace and love.
 
~
 
I LOVED this book. L.o.v.e.d it. It's a short, cozy story that had me oblivious to the world, wondering what was going to happen next to dear Miss Rose. I don't know how much to say without spoiling it for those of you who plan on reading it in the near future, but let me just say this: this is one of the best Christmas novellas that I have ever read. I'm usually not too fond of novellas because most of the time I don't feel like I get the whole story in such a short span of time, but I had no such trouble with A Christmas Gift For Rose. Every moment was described wonderfully, every scene was played out to perfection, and I don't feel like I was missing some huge part of the story like I usually do when I read books this short. I can't wait to read more from Tricia Goyer! I've heard great things about her, but this is the first book of hers that I personally have had the chance to read. Well, let me just say, hopefully it won't be the last!
 
 
 ~Madi For The Literary Maidens
 
Note: I was provided with a free hardcopy of A Christmas Gift For Rose by the Litfuse Publicity group in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts expressed are completely my own and totally unbiased.

Promise To Return By Elizabeth Byler Younts Book Review

/ / Promise To Return / /

/ / Review By Madi / /

Book Title: Promise To Return
Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts
Source: Howard Publishers
Number Of Pages: 298
ISBN: 978-1-4767-3501-6
Publisher: Howard Publishers
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
 
/ / Book Description / /
When World War II breaks out, Miriam’s fiancĂ©, Henry, is drafted and sent to a conscientious objector camp. But when Henry feels called to fight on the front lines, he goes against the Amish church to follow God’s will—forcing Miriam to choose between the rules of her religion and the leading of her heart.

It’s 1943 and Miriam Coblentz and Henry Mast are nearing their wedding day when the unthinkable happens—Henry is drafted. However, since he is a part of the pacifist Amish tradition, Henry is sent to a conscientious objector Civilian Public Service camp. When he leaves for the work camp, his gaping absence turns Miriam’s life upside down. Little does she know that it’s only the beginning…

When Henry returns home, he brings news that shakes Miriam and their Amish community to the core. He tells Miriam he believes God has called him to enlist in the Army and fight for his country, leaving her to make an important decision. She soon must choose between loyalty to the peaceful life she’s always known and her love for Henry and her faith in their shared destiny.

Two worlds collide in this unforgettable debut novel, providing a fascinating and rare look into Amish culture during World War II. While Henry is battling enemies across the ocean, Miriam struggles between devotion to Henry and her love of the Amish way of life. One question is at the bottom of it all: will she follow her religion or her heart?
 
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
I love historical fiction novels set in war time. It brings to life all the stories that I've heard about those who gave up their everyday lives to serve our country. I was especially interested in this book, because it is from an Amish standpoint. The Amish people are completely against war and violence, and don't want anything to do with it, so it's not every day that you see an Amish war novel. I could tell that this story was close to the author's heart, because every page shows how much feeling she put into it. The author bio on the back of the book says that Elizabeth Byler Younts was raised Amish and is now a military wife. Wow! No wonder! I guess one of the perks of being raised Amish is that you already know their traditions and costumes. I've done some of my own research on the Amish, and so many "Amish" novels have inaccurate information concerning this culture. Elizabeth was (as far as I could tell) right on the money with her claims of the everyday life of an Amish person. So, not only was this book very interesting, it's also a great way to see into the dying way of life that the Amish live.

Miriam Coblentz is a young Amish woman who fell for a guy by the name of Henry Mast. Henry was drafted several months ago, and Miriam is always stalking the mailbox while she anxiously awaits his homecoming. When Henry does finally return home, he brings devastating news. He is enlisting.  Now Miriam must bear the shame that comes with being linked to him, and her heart is constantly being toyed with by Henry's best friend Levi. Miriam doesn't know what to do or where to turn, and when the news of her own past comes to light, she is knocked down by what it means for her future.

Henry Mast watched men die during his first bit of service, and although he has already served his time, he feels the need to go back and play a bigger role in defending his country and to those closest to him. He feels God tugging him toward the military, and despite what it might mean to his relationships and ties at home, he has to do what he thinks is right, no matter the cost. He just wished that it didn't have to be so hard on his girl Miriam.

These two fight battles on and off the battlefield, and the significance of their victory lays solely at their own feet.

~

This was a really good book! I love the historical value that it presents, and I love the passionate and in-depth descriptions that made me feel like I was living what I was reading. There isn't a thing about it that I would change! There are plot twist and suspenseful moments aplenty, and it didn't have boring moment in it. I can't wait to read more by this author!

~Madi For The Literary Maidens

Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book by Howard Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not paid the write this review and all thoughts and sentiments expressed in this post are completely my own and totally unbiased.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Monday, October 7, 2013

A Talent For Trouble By Jen Turano Book Review

/ / A Talent For Trouble / /

/ / A Novel By Jen Turano / /

 
{Review By Madi}
 
Book Title: A Talent For Trouble
Author: Jen Turano
Source: Bethany House Publishers
Number Of Pages: 346
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1126-3
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars
 
 
/ / Book Description / /
Miss Felicia Murdock firmly believed her destiny was to become a minister's wife. When the minister on whom she had set her sights marries another lady, Felicia is forced to take a close look at her life and comes to a few uncomfortable conclusions. Determined that something needs to change--and soon--Felicia discovers she is finally ready to spread her wings and embrace life the way she's always wanted.

Grayson Sumner--or Lord Sefton, as he's officially known--has had more than enough of spreading his wings and only hopes to settle into the life of a normal, respectable New York gentleman. Prompted by some well-meaning friends to lift the spirits of the disappointed-in-love Miss Murdock, he is surprised to encounter a young lady who seems to have become quite adventurous and quite determined to get herself into all sorts of troublesome situations.

Intent on remaining independent, Felicia is reluctant to accept Grayson's help, especially as she finds herself developing feelings for him. However, just as Grayson decides he's had quite enough of her antics, his past comes back to haunt him and his presence in her life has endangered Felicia. Will Grayson and Felicia decide they want to spend the rest of their lives keeping one another out of trouble?
 
 
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
Felicia Murdock has had a bit of an infatuation over her minister for four long years, so when he marries someone else she feels entitled to a bit of a pity party. No sooner had she dramatically thrown herself onto her bed then her mother walked into her room and announced that she had arranged for a very eligible bachelor to escort her to dinner. Felicia was tired of her mother's matchmaking, and decided to make everything as difficult as possible for Mr. Grayson Sumner. She wore ridiculous clothes, assumed another identity for a day, called him by a name not his own, drove his horses like a wild woman, and acted deplorable in each and every way. But she still somehow charms Mr. Sumner with her social awkwardness, and he is a goner from day one. Sort of. Though they were attracted to each other, they didn't get along so well at first (Understandably). What, with Felicia (or should I say Clara?) acting like she belongs in an insane asylum and Grayson guarding his heart, these two get off to a rocky start.
 
Felicia figures that if she can't have the minister then she just won't get married. Why bother? She knows her mother is trying to set her up with Mr. Grayson Sumner, but she will have nothing of it. Besides, once she gets to know Grayson, she discovers that he has quite the past, and she doesn't want anything to do with him. At first.
 
Grayson is guarding his heart from this beautiful, vivacious woman, because he knows that he can never deserve her. When a man has a past like his he has no right to bring a woman into his troubles. He wasn't planning on her putting herself in the mix!
 
~
 
I really liked this book! I read a novella by this author a while back titled "Gentleman of Her Dreams", and I LOVED it. I was so excited when I heard that Jen Turano had another book out. Of course I had to have it, ;).  This novel is a page turner, that's for sure and for certain! Also, the characters were hilarious! Especially Felicia ;). I often found myself giggling while reading this novel (much to the amusement of my family). If you like historical fiction in the tiniest bit, you'll love this book. There was fighting, comic relief, suspense and so much more! I would recommend this book to any female looking for a new favorite historical fiction.
  
~Madi For The Literary Maidens
 
NOTE: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not paid to write this review and all thoughts expressed in this post are completely my own and totally unbiased.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Christmas Gift For Rose By Tricia Goyer Book Review

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// A Christmas Gift For Rose //
 
A Novella
 
By Tricia Goyer
 
{Review By Bethany}
 
Title: A Christmas Gift For Rose :: A Novella
Author: Tricia Goyer
Source: Litfuse Publicity Group Review Copy from the Publisher
Number of Pages: 192
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: September 24th, 2013
Bethany's Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
// Book Synopsis //

"Rose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War II—only to discover she’s an Englischer herself. Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work. Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind—Englischers? When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear."

// Bethany's Novella Review //

This was a short, yet sweet Christmas novella set in an Amish town and based on a true story, that is sure to be a delightful read accompanied by a warm fireside and a cup of cocoa, to read during the holiday season!
 
This was the first book that I've read by Tricia that she had written by herself (I read The Swiss Courier, which she authored with another author, Mike Yorkey), and I have to say I really liked it! It was a very sweet quaint story that really made me get excited about the upcoming holiday season!
 
Since this is a novella, it's shorter than a novel and the perfect size to read in a short amount of time. However don't let the size fool you as there is plenty of things going on. At first I though that since this story was so short, I wouldn't get a very good character development in the story. But I was pleasantly surprised when I read it, to find that this wasn't an issue at all, and actually the character development was quite well done. Main character Rose who is Amish, and the other characters too for that matter, were nicely developed in a short time, and I really felt like even though it was short, I got as much character development as I would have if it was a novel size. I loved seeing how Rose grew and dealt with her fears and anxieties, and loved the way the novella ended!
 
This novella is not only a sweet fireside read, but it's also got a wonderful message of feeling important and feeling like you belong. In the story Rose finds out that she wasn't born to an Amish family. She was adopted at a young age, when she was sick and her poor parents were unable to care for her and feed her. So they let their Amish next door neighbors adopt Rose, and she grew up with them. Now it's nearly Thanksgiving many years later, and she finds out that she isn't Amish and that the family she grew up with isn't her real family. Rose begins to doubt, and have second thoughts about being Amish, and feels out of place among the Amish community members who were born into an Amish home. Though she's always been loved and well cared for in the Amish family, she feels out of place and like she doesn't really belong. Top it all off with her strained relationship with the man she once though she'd marry, and Rose is overwhelmed with the fear of the unknown, and feeling like she fits in. However by the end of the story readers see that once Rose learns to trust the Lord and realize her identity in Him, everything seems to pan out in the end.
 
Overall I enjoyed this novella and would recommend it as a sweet, short Christmas read to get you into the holiday cheer.
 
N O T E :: I'd like to sincerely thank Tricia Goyer, Thomas Nelson publishers and Litfuse Publicity group for the opportunity to receive a complementary hardback copy of A Christmas Gift For Rose to read and review. I was not paid to review this novella, and all thoughts expressed in my review are completely honest and unbiased.
 
 If you want to join the A Christmas Gift For Rose release fun, then be sure and check out Litfuse's fun giveaway!

{Note: I am not involved in this giveaway as far as sponsorship, but still wanted to let you all know about it.}
 
Enter Today - 10/1 - 10/19!
A Christmas Gift for Rose Tricia Goyer Zondervan