Saturday, September 27, 2014

Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

20665063// Playing by Heart //
By Anne Mateer
{Review by Bethany}

Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Publication Date: September 16th, 2014
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 0764210653
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

// Book Synopsis //
Taken from GoodReads
"Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.

After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!

Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet. 

However, the more time she spends in Dunn, the more Lula realizes God is working on her heart--and her future is beginning to look a lot different than she'd expected."     

// Bethany's Book Review //

I've read all of Anne Mateer's books, except for At Every Turn, and really enjoyed them. I was excited when I found out that she had a new book that was to be released soon, and eagerly took the opportunity to review it. Sadly thought, this book just wasn't for me.

One of the things that made me such a fan of Mateer's previous novels was her simple stories that had a very Janette Oke feel, with close knit families and endearing characters. This book was no exception, and had a very sweet but simple story. I was rather surprised when my high expectations for this novel were not met, and in fact got to the point to where I really didn't like the novel at all. I think the reason this novel wasn't for me was due to the simple storyline, which I personally felt was shallow and lacked depth. I found the storyline to be rather simple and often felt that the story was slow.

I didn't really have a good idea of the book's storyline prior to requesting it, since I was so sure I'd love it and didn't bother to really look into what it was about. Once I started reading it I realised it involved quite a bit of basketball, and being that this particular sport doesn't interest me, I think it just added to the fact that I was quickly looking interest in the story. I read the first half of the novel, but after that I lost interest rather quickly and just skimmed over the rest of the novel. If I wouldn't have been required to finish this novel to review it, I probably wouldn't have completed it on my own.

While I've really loved this author's other novels, this novel sadly wasn't a good match for me. However I don't want to discourage you from giving it a go yourself! Since everyone has different taste, I know there are many people out there who would love this book, sadly though I wasn't one of them. So please don't let my experience with this novel keep you from reading it yourself!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complementary copy of Playing by Heart for the purpose of this review. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts expressed are my own, completely honest and unbiased. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz Book Review


// Love's Fortune //

The Ballantyne Legacy // Book #3

By Laura Frantz

{Book Review by Bethany}

Publisher: Revell
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Publication Date: September 16th, 2014
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 0800720431
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

// Book Synopsis //

Taken from GoodReads
"Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballantyne saga."

 // Bethany's Book Review //

This was my fourth book to read by Laura Frantz, and it probably won't be the last! I've been a fan of Laura Frantz's novels for a while now, and I was so excited to be able to complete the Ballantyne saga! 
Now that I've finished Love's Fortune, I've read all three books in the Ballantyne Legacy saga. While I think the second one titled Love's Awakening was my favorite (I didn't seem to enjoy the first as third ones quite as much as I did the second), I did enjoy the experience of reading this wonderful series, and learning about this wonderful family through this generational series.
The Ballantyne Legacy saga is a three book series about the Ballantyne family. Each book features another generation of Ballantyne women, with each one building upon the older woman who was featured in the previous book, creating a wonderful family bond throughout the series. I loved this aspect of the series since you really get to know the family, and I think it made for a strong, unique story line. The aspect of a generational trilogy has always made for a very interesting story, in my opinion, and this one was no exception!
Love's Fortune, the final book in the Ballantyne trilogy, was a book that I'd consider a nice read, but unfortunately I didn't end up enjoying it as much as I was hoping to. While the story was masterfully crafted and presented, I for some reason had a particularly difficult time getting "into" the story. I felt the same thing with the first book, but I'm not sure if this was due to the fact that I read it over a few weeks of time. I personally have a hard time getting "into" stories if I read them in large chunks which are spaced out (i.e. I read half the book in one day but don't get a chance to read again for a couple more days). While this was never my intention when I first started the book, I ended up being busy and didn't finish it as soon as I'd have liked. So whenever I did get a chance to read from it again I had a hard time connecting to the characters, and while the story was excellent I think this aspect on my part made the book less enjoyable for me. But I don't want you to think that the story was not interesting or constant, because it was, and whenever I did read it I never had a hard time turning pages. Personally I just think the time I read the book wasn't convenient for me, however this was not a fault in the book, but rather one on my part.
Concerning to the actual story thought, it was a beautiful! Laura Frantz not only creates such magical stories, she also has such a gift for writing, and tells those magical stories in such elegant ways. Her writing style never ceased to amaze me while reading this book. I absolutely love her way with words, and it's one that I fully enjoyed experiencing while reading Love's Fortune. Whether it was the front cover, or the characters or the way the story was told, Frantz just has an element of elegance to her that I really enjoyed seeing throughout the novel!
Overall I did enjoy this book, and while not my favorite in the series, I still enjoyed it alongside this wonderful family trilogy. I'd highly recommend this series to fans of historical fiction, or for those who enjoy close family stories, as these are sure to not disappoint!
D I S C L A I M E R :: I received a complementary copy of Love's Fortune from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts expressed are my own, completely honest and unbiased.