Monday, April 28, 2014

Fair Play By Deeanne Gist Book Review

Fair Play

A Novel

Review Written By Madi
Book Title: Fair Play
Author: Deeanne Gist
Source/Sponsor: Howard Publishers
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Number Of Pages: 464
ISBN: 978-1-4516-9241-9
Publisher: Howard Publishers
Year Of Publication: 2014
My Rating: Four Out Of Five Stars
Book Description:
From the bestselling author of It Happened at the Fair comes a historical love story about a lady doctor and a Texas Ranger who meet at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Saddled with a man’s name, the captivating Billy Jack Tate makes no apologies for taking on a man’s profession. As a doctor at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, she is one step closer to having her very own medical practice—until Hunter Scott asks her to give it all up to become his wife.

Hunter is one of the elite. A Texas Ranger and World’s Fair guard specifically chosen for his height, physique, character, and skill. Hailed as the toughest man west of any place east, he has no patience for big cities and women who think they belong anywhere but home…

Despite their difference of opinion on the role of women, Hunter and Billy find a growing attraction between them—until Hunter discovers an abandoned baby in the corner of a White City exhibit. He and Billy team up to make sure this foundling isn’t left in the slums of Chicago with only the flea-riddled, garbage-infested streets for a playground. As they fight for the underprivileged children in the Nineteenth Ward, an entire Playground Movement is birthed. But when the Fair comes to an end, one of them will have to give up their dream.

Will Billy exchange her doctor’s shingle for the domesticated role of a southern wife, or will Hunter abandon the wide open spaces of home for a life in the “gray city,” a woman who insists on being the wage earner, and a group of ragamuffins who need more than a playground for breathing space?
Book Review:
 This was a REALLY good book! When I requested it I didn't realize that it was going to be so lengthy, but now that I have read it I'm glad that it is. I've read a couple of things by this author, but it's been a while so I don't remember much about them. I didn't remember hating them, so I supposed it was worth a shot. Well, it was. Well worth it. Deeanne Gist has most definitely gained my respect as a writer. I can't wait to see what she writes next! I love historical fiction, and she really seems to know her stuff. This book was about a woman doctor back when being a doctor was almost an all male profession, with a boyish name to boot. Billy is a spitfire of a character, and somehow she enlists the help of a very traditional Texas Ranger. He believes that a woman has no business working outside of the home. He thinks that Billy is ornery, hard headed and impulsive - which she is. But when these two complete opposites come together on a neutral battlefield to support a cause that will help Chicago and it's residents, sparks will fly. I was entranced. This book kept my attention from start to finish. My only complaint is that Billy's character could be a bit of a lack wit at times. Fine, you're an independent woman, I get that, but sometimes she took it too far. When she puts herself and others in danger just to prove the point that she is just as capable as Hunter I couldn't help but want to knock her silly. I mean sheez, let him take the punches. That's just common sense. And if the man wants to open your door or carry something heavy for you, let him! Goodness. Use your head. She just aggravated me sometimes. It's bad when I take the guys side ;) . Anyway, the plot was well executed, the characters fulfilled their roles to a T, and I enjoyed it very much. I look forward to reading more by this author.
  ~Madi For The Literary Maidens
Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion by Howard Publishers. I was not further compensated to review this product and all thoughts and sentiments expressed above are completely my own and unbiased.

The Pelican Bride by Beth White Book Review

18059984 // The Pelican Bride //

By Beth White

{Review By Bethany}

Book Title: The Pelican Bride
Series: Gulf Coast Chronicles // Book #1
Author: Beth White
Source: Revell Review Program
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 367
ISBN: 0800721977
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: April 15th, 2014
Rating: Two out of five stars

// Book Synopsis //
Taken From GoodReads

"It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself."

// Bethany's Book Review //
I had heard about this book last year, and seeing how it looked interesting, I really looked forward to it's release and eagerly requested to review it once the opportunity came to do so. I was very excited to be able to read this book. I just adored the feminine white cover, and hoped that the story itself would be just as lovely as the cover. While the story was beautiful-both the writing style and characters were very nice and well-planned out-I just felt like there were two main things that kept me from enjoying this novel.

I'm going to be really honest here and say I didn't like this book. While there were only a few small things that lead to this, I'd have to say the number one thing for me that really made this book more of a "chore" to read than a delight, was how slow it was for me. It took me over a week to finish this book, since every time I was able to read I just didn't want to read it, and almost had to make myself finish it. About half way through the novel I really felt like I wasn't going to enjoy the rest of it, after continually trying to give it another chance and see if I changed my mind on it; which never happened. So I ended up scanning the last half of the book as an alternative to not finishing it, which I'd probably have done had I not been required to review it. Honestly, I was sad that I had to review it, as I hate having to write an honest, yet negative review of a book. I also really didn't want to discourage the author with a negative review, as I feel lots of people will enjoy this book-I just feel like it wasn't the right match for me.

As I said, I really felt like the story line was drawn out and while it did have a very intricate story line that involved several main characters, I just felt like the whole story was very slow. Also, I felt like I just couldn't connect with the characters, which is the second important factor that lead me not to enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. Another thing I found different was the relationship between Genevieve and Tristan. They literally got married as a spur-of-the moment type decision and immediately the next morning Tristan left for duty and from that point on there was very little of the story where they were together. I just found it odd that the main characters weren't together as much, especially since they'd just gotten married, and I almost felt like the timing for their hasty wedding could have been planned in a more wise manner instead of a hasty decision that may have lead to a bad start for a life-long marriage.

However there were several aspects of this book that I did enjoy such as the several intricate characters and the Christian influence in the story. However, sadly for me the aspects that I didn't like in this novel far outweighed the good ones.

While I may have come across as a reader who really hated this novel, that isn't the case. I did find things I enjoyed in this novel, but for me the things I didn't like were much more than the things I did like. However I in no way wish to discourage the author or say that this book should be avoided. I felt that for me personally, this wasn't a good match with my reading taste. However that in no way means that you shouldn't give this book a try! After all, everyone's personal reading tastes are different and all of them vary, so while I didn't enjoy this book as much as I'd have liked, I do know that there are lots of people out there who would absolutely love this book. So I encourage everyone to give this book a try, and not avoid such an opportunity just because I didn't like it, as I know several ladies who did enjoy this book.
D I S C L A I M E R :: I received a free copy of The Pelican Bride by Beth White from the publisher to review. I was not paid to write this review, nor required to write a good review, if I didn't like the book. All the thoughts expressed in my review are honest and unbiased.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta Book Review

18312044// Mark of Distinction //
Price of Privilege Series // Book #2
By Jessica Dotta
{Review Written By Bethany}
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gothic Fiction
Number of Pages: 380
ISBN: 1414375565
Publisher: Tyndale
Publication Date: Ma 1st, 2014
Rating: Four out of five stars
// Book Synopsis //
{Taken from GoodReads}
"London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself—but to Julia Elliston it is a city of shadows. Her life is swiftly dissolving into scandal. And in Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal—substantiated or not—can be the death of a young woman’s reputation.

When Julia discovers that Lord Roy Pierson, her guardian and one of most influential men in England, is the father she has never met, she begrudgingly accepts his protection. But Chance Macy’s power is far-reaching as well.

Thrust into society as the Emerald Heiress, Julia is the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity. But in reality she’s trapped between the clutches of two powerful men. Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must finally take control of her own fate—but outwitting one’s foe rarely goes according to plan."
// Book Review //
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Born of Persuasion which is the first book in this Price of Privilege series, last year; and was so excited to continue Julia's story! I'd become a fan of Jessica Dotta with Born of Persuasion which was her d├ębut novel, and was impressed with this novel as well! With the cliff-hanging ending that both Born of Persuasion and Mark of Distinction had, I now eagerly await the final installment, Price of Privilege which the final book in this exciting and unique trilogy, which reminds me of Downton Abbey, Jane Austen and Jane Eyre's style and time period!
Along the positive sides of this novel, the first thing that comes to mind is the lovely writing style. I feel like some authors write because they are good at telling stories; and other write because they have the gift of beautiful writing. I can happily day that Jesica Dotta truly possesses both of these qualities-and both at such high levels! I've never really read an author who has such a fantastic way with words, but also can share such a wonderfully thought-out out plot in an intricate story/trilogy. The writing style is just amazing. It's very classic in the fact of the descriptions and how they are described in such elegant ways. The story-line is so well thought-out, all the different twists and turns were such surprises and the character development was incredible; as some characters start out being either good or bad, and then all the sudden you start to re-consider your view of them. This author just has such a true talent for both writing and story-telling, and I believe that this series is such a true gem!
I think that this was such a wonderful second novel in this trilogy. Questions from Born of Persuasion were answered, but there were also new questions that arose that make you eager for the final novel! At first I feared I'd have a hard time getting back into the story and remembering all the characters (sometime it can be a bit tricky keeping them all in order), especially since it had been a year since I'd read Born of Persuasion, book number one. While I did find it easier remembering all the characters than I originally anticipated, I do think it was still at times tricky remember who was who and the events that played out in the previous novel. While this in some ways was mostly due to my long-term memory, it was still a bit tricky. But after about a quarter to half-way through the novel things got easier to remember as the characters came up and references were made to the previous happenings.
Along that note, I did feel like there was a bit of dragging in this novel too. For a period of time Julia is basically under house arrest of sorts since her father forbids her to go out in public, so for a while there isn't terribly much happening since she stayed home all the time. However I don't think the slow bits were a big deal for me. I did notice them but they didn't hinder my reading pleasure and didn't really get in the way of the story for me.
Over-all, I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to the final installment in the trilogy! Anyone who enjoys the writing style and descriptiveness of classic books, or those who enjoy Gothic fiction that is similar to Jane Austen and Jane Eyre will love this exciting and every delightful novel! However I will say that for anyone who is interested in this series, it is definitely, without a doubt one of those series you have to read in order for things the make sense. But once you do I'm sure you'll enjoy this novel just as much as I did!
D I S C L A I M E R :: I received a complementary review copy of Mark of Distinction from the publisher for the sole purpose of this review. I was not paid to write this review or promote this book. All thoughts expressed in my review are completely my own, honest and unbiased.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell Book Review

18008073// Love Comes Calling //
By Siri Mitchell
{Review By Bethany}
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Early 1900s
Number of Pages: 360
ISBN: 076421036X
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: March 4th, 2014
Rating: Four out of five stars
// Book Synopsis //
{Taken from the back cover}
"A girl with the best of intentions.
A heart set on Hollywood.
An empty pocketbook.

That's all it takes for Ellis Eton to find herself working as a telephone operator for a look-alike friend. For Ellis, this job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get her a start in the movies. She's tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can't deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she's not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It's simple: avoid Griff's attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call...with her very own Griff as the target.

With an endearing heroine as her lead, Siri Mitchell takes readers on a madcap tale
 of love and discovering one's true desires!"

// Bethany's Book Review //
I've had the pleasure of being able to read several of Siri Mitchell's previous novels including She Walks In Beauty (and absolute favorite novel of mine!), as well as Unrivaled. Being that her writing style is very diverse in time periods and themes, I was excited to see what she did with this new novel based in the early 1920s in Boston. While I did enjoy reading it, I don't think it's a favorite, though I'm glad I did read it. However for sure, She Walks In Beauty takes the cake for being my favorite novel she has written; which quite honestly I don't see changing in the future.
This novel was different than I expected it to be in the fact that it was a very fun, light and quick read, that I found very personable and humorous-while at the same time having very serious strains within the pages. I really ended up reading this book with "spare moments". Basically I started it on a day where I had an extra 15 minutes, and then read a bit more a few other times I had a few minutes, and then it seemed like all the sudden I'd finished it without putting lots of time into reading it. I think this was mainly because the story flowed well and the story line was relaxed and not super complex like other stories that take a while to "connect" (no pun intended! :D) in your brain with all the different plots and characters. So in a way, this book was very simple, but also very nice. Since the plot was very simple, it made it easier to read, and also made it a light read, but one I did enjoy.
The main character Ellis Eaton's personality was quite honestly a bit difficult for me to "get". I felt like at times I totally related with her clumsiness and difficulty remembering things. I laughed at the situations it brought her into, but also felt a deeply like I could totally relate, being that her character was so real and showed honestly that people make mistakes! However, at other times I felt like her mind may not have been "all there", and I felt like she might almost have a disorder or something of the sort.  Her character is one of very high energy and one of easily forgetting things or loose track of situations. While it wasn't so bad to where I thought she was mental, I did get a feel like there was something not quite right, from ways she would respond verbally to certain situations that reminded me of someone who might have a compulsive disorder. True enough, at the end of the book the author described how she created Ellis's character with ADHD, and I was glad to know that wasn't just a feeling I got, but that the author made the character like that on purpose. So while at times I just loved the "real" situations her compulsive disorder brought, I felt like at other times I didn't quite relate with other bits of her personality.
Despite the title which may suggest this novel to be a big romance, it's not. I felt like the title worked perfectly with the story since Ellis fills in for a friend at her telephone job as a "hello girl", where she is constantly connecting and disconnecting calls. I liked how the story mainly focused on Ellis and didn't heavily rely on a romance to make the story interesting. While there was a nice bit of clean romance, I felt like it wasn't overly done, and for sure very clean.
The only con I'd mention is that there is a minor-character who is rather immoral, and there was one scene at a bar where she was inappropriately dancing on stage. I'd probably just recommend to skip over that paragraph when it comes, if this is an area you'd rather just avoid. Since it's only one paragraph it makes it easy to just skip over once. There are several scenes at a bar, with people being getting/being drunk, with an over-all not good feeling, and we also learn of the dangerous effects that drinking can give a body, leading to a very good moral to the story.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel and loved Ellis's personality and the humorously light style that makes this book easy to read in a short amount of time. I'd highly recommend this book to historical fiction fans, or those who enjoy very unique novels from Christian authors.
D I  C L A I M E R :: I received a free copy of Love Comes Calling from the publisher for the sole purpose of this review. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts expressed in my review are completely honest and unbiased.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shadow Hand By Anne Elisabeth Stengl Book Review

Shadow Hand

Tales Of Goldstone Wood, #2

Review Written By Madi
Book Title: Shadow Hand
Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales Of Goldstone Wood
Source: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Magic Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1028-0
Number Of Pages: 408
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Year Of Publication: 2014
Rating: Two Out Of Five Stars
Book Description
She will take your own two hands
to save your ancient, sorrowing lands.

By her father's wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . . .

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

Book Review

I absolutely LOVE historical fiction. It is by far my favorite book genre. When I read the description for this book, I was intrigued. The story is set in medieval times? How interesting. I thought that maybe it would be like some of Melanie Dickerson's books, and I LOVE her. I requested this book with high expectations. When it arrived in the mail, I was surprised how thick it was. I didn't realize it was quite so long. No matter, I'm a fast reader anyway. The second thing I noticed about this novel was it's absolutely gorgeous cover. It's so . . . magical. I ought to know better than to judge a book by it's cover, but I can't help but love a book even more if it has a good story AND it's pretty. I opened it up, and I realized that it was just as pretty looking on the inside. The cover page, page numbers, and bits of poetry makes this book look very well done. To whoever was in charge of design, awesome job! Very professional. Unfortunately, the story didn't match up to the outward beauty. I was disappointed at first, but then I decided that I should read on a little further before making judgment. Well, over 150 pages in and I'm still not lovin' it. I thought to myself, "Maybe I'm just not used to this writing style," and I read on, still hoping. Then when I passed up the halfway mark, I realized that I was gonna have trouble finishing this book. And I did. The characters are such lack wits. Nothing that was going on had a purpose. Actually, I found it downright weird. Stengl is definitely no Melanie Dickerson. I just feel like this book was . . . well . . . pointless. It was waste of my time and now I'm behind on my reading. The only thing I liked about it aside from it's cover was how Daylily was a redhead and that her hair color really made her stand out in several parts of the story. If you read about someone referring to the girl with the "fiery hair", you know whom they were referring to. I'm sad to say that I won't be searching out any more books from this author, and I would not be likely to recommend it to a friend.
~Madi For The Literary Maidens
Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not further compensated to review this product and all thoughts and sentiments expressed above are completely my own and unbiased.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Remnants by Lisa T. Bergren Book Review

13645229// Remnants: Season of Wonder //
Remnants Series // Book #1
By Lisa T. Bergren
{Review by Bethany}
Source: ARC review copy courtesy of the author
Genre: Young Adult, Futuristic/Dystopian fiction
Number of Pages: 570
ISBN: 0310735645
Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: April 8th, 2014
Rating: Four out of five stars
// Book Synopsis //
{Taken from GoodReads}

"In the first book of the new futuristic dystopian series from author Lisa T. Bergren, the chosen remnants must work to redirect humanity’s course.

The year is 2095. Gifted teens known as Remnants have been chosen and trained to act as humanity’s last hope to rectify the horrors that are now part of everyday life.

The Community has trained these teens as warriors and assigned them Knights of the Last Order as protectors. Together, they are a force that will be difficult to bring down.

But the Sons of Sheol, of course, are determined to do just that. As the Remnants begin their mission to course-correct humanity by saving and protecting key individuals, their enemies move to stop them, placing the entire world in peril.

Bestselling author Lisa T. Bergren presents the first book in her new YA futuristic dystopian series—The Remnants Novels—fitting in with the current dystopian trend in the marketplace."
// Book Review //
For a while now, I've been a huge fan of Lisa Bergren-especially her River of Time series. Ever since hearing about her newest release, Remnants which is a futuristic young adult series with an emphasis on spiritual warfare; I was very eager to read it!
In my opinion, this book is an excellent start to this new Remnants series! I really felt like I got to know the characters very well-especially main character Andriana, and I'm very eager to continue the journey in the next book, Remnants: Season of Fire! I really liked how it was all eluding to Christianity throughout the story. All the things that represented Christianity, like the Remnants (the good guys) fighting the Sons of Sheol (the bad guys), which reminded me of angels and demons as well as the spiritual warfare between good and evil. Another aspect which reminded me of the whole spiritual emphasis was how each of the Remnants had a special gift, given to them by the Maker, that greatly assisted them in their fight against the Sons of Sheol. I found Andriana's gift of "reading" people's emotions and feelings as an interesting gift; that though helpful, was sometimes dangerous. Since she had this gift, it was interesting seeing the story from her perspective, and getting to see how she handled various situations throughout the story.  
It was neat reading a story where the whole plot is driven to remind you of the constant war between good and evil. Remnants reminded me of anther book I've read titled Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black, which is also is written from a spiritual warfare aspect. However in this book I liked how there were more Remnants and main characters with gifts, as it made things much more interesting being that there were more people involved. (However I still greatly recommend Cloak of the Light!)
As with any dystopian novel, Remnants did have a bit of violence, as the Remnants had several big fights with the Sons of Sheol, and obviously in such an event, there will be violence due to killing these creatures that represented demons. While the actual Sons of Sheol weren't in my opinion very scary or overly-described, the violence is a bit graphic, though not overly so. However I'd not recommend this book to younger readers, as it has an overall very thought-provoking aspect that has a dark weight of good versus evil, which can be more than your everyday light read.
Really the only other aspect that I wasn't completely crazy over was the romance and love-triangle aspect. Considering the length of the story, there wasn't an overabundance of romance in my opinion. However when it did show up it was just a little different for me. I felt like a few of the romance scenes had a bit to many details and descriptions. But it never was anything that made me disappointed in the novel, just something I felt was a bit different and probably consisted of too many details for my taste.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel which despite being over 550 pages didn't get bland or dry, and I had no problem continuously turning pages. I'd highly recommend it to fans of Christian futuristic novels!
D I S C L A I M E R :: I contacted the author with an interest in reviewing this book and was sent a free ARC copy of Remnants to read and review. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts expressed in my review are my own, completely honest and unbiased.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cloak Of The Light By Chuck Black Book Review

Cloak Of The Light

Wars Of The Realm, #1

Book Review Written By Madi
Book Title: Cloak Of The Light
Author: Chuck Black
Source: Blogging For Books
Genre: Christian Fiction
Number Of Pages: 306
ISBN: 978-1-60142-502-7
Publisher: Multnomah
Year Of Publication: 2014
Rating: Five Out Of Five Stars
Book Description
Author of the popular Kingdom Series returns with this thrilling new novel for young adults.

Tragedy and heartache seem to be waiting for Drew Carter at every turn. Sydney Carlyle, a mysterious and elusive girl offers encouragement through her faith, but Drew is too logical and scientific to believe that her prayer of healing was anything but coincidental in the restoration of his eyesight. As his sight returns, he discovers that the accident has heightened his neuron activity, giving him skills and sight beyond the normal man. When he begins to see fierce invaders that no one else can see, he questions his own sanity, and so do others. But is he insane or do the invaders truly exist? The only one who can help him, his genius friend Benjamin Berg, has disappeared. In Drew's quest to find Ben, he discovers that the invaders themselves are at war, for his efforts to thwart the devastating actions caused by the dark invaders are aided by invaders with a different nature. Time grows short as the dark invaders close in on Drew. With skills that no other man possesses, and help from Benjamin and Sydney, Drew initiates a plan to expose the invaders to the world.
Book Review
 Chuck Black, beloved author of The Kingdom Series has written another page-turning novel that will grab your attention and not let it go until the very end. By reading this book you will get a look into the world of supernatural battles and how angels and demons could potentially be changing our lives as we know it as we speak. I have read (and re-read) The Kingdom Series to a point where I could quote it. When I found out that Chuck Black had authored another book, I jumped at the opportunity to read and review it. This book is the first book in the Wars Of The Realm Series, and I can already tell you that no other book I have read this year can even come close. When I started reading it, I was a little concerned at first. The first several chapters were all about Drew's backstory. Had my favorite author written a boring book after all? NOPE. When I got farther into the story, I realized that all the time spent on Drew's background was completely necessary in order for the story to make sense and pull together. Black knows what he's doing. He perfectly blends the worlds of Christians and Non-believers. He describes angels and demons in a realistic sense. No pointy horns and red skin, just very creepy, dark, mythical creatures. I also liked how he included a guide in the back of how each chapter resembled biblical doctrine and prophecies. The only thing that I didn't like about this book was the end of it. It totally left me hanging until the next book comes out! (Does anyone know when that might be, by the way?). My favorite character is Sydney. She was the only one smart enough to figure out what the heck was going on. Granted, she didn't piece the pieces together until the last few pages, but in her defense, she wasn't the most informed person in the trio (Drew, Ben and Sydney). I can't wait until the next book comes out. If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, READ IT. It's also family friendly, so I'm sure that the youngers ones in your family would enjoy reading it as well.

~Madi For The Literary Maidens

Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book by the Blogging For Books review program in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not further compensated to review this product and all thoughts and sentiments expressed above are completely my own and unbiased.

Monday, April 14, 2014

For Such a Time By Kate Breslin Book Review

18008080// For Such a Time //
By Kate Breslin
{ Review By Bethany }
Number of Pages: 430
ISBN: 0764211609
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
// Book Synopsis //
Taken From Good Reads
"In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp's prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?"
// Book Review //
An adventure and action packed novel set during WWII, based on the Bible story of Queen Esther, this novel is full of emotion and is sure to prove a tear-jerking story of tremendous suffering alongside unwavering faith. Filled with lovable characters and plenty of action to keep you turning pages, this emotional story is one that makes you think, and will not be quickly forgotten. A top favorite of all the books I've read this year, I highly recommend this inspiring novel from author Kate Breslin!
Where do I even begin to describe how outstanding this novel is? From the very first chapter I was drawn into the story, and felt truly connected to the characters, feeling a deep sympathy for many of the Jews who barley survived-some of whom did not even survive-the extremely harsh conditions of the concentration camps, whose lives were written in detail in this story. The characters all had such great development throughout the story, and I particularly found myself loving Joseph and the little girl Hadassah friended in the camps, who adopted her as her "mama". Reading such detailed accounts of the horrid realities of this time period was sobering, and the way they were written not only contributed to Kate Breslin's lovely writing style, but added so much heart to the story.
Usually I'm not a big crier when it comes to novels. The reality of it is, few novels actually move me to such an extent that I shed tears, or get emotional in the reading process. But the combination of the wonderful writing style of the author, the detailed accounts of the suffering Jew's lives, and the realities of the Holocaust that actually DID happen-those who truly did loose their lives under such conditions-made me unable to read the last chapter without shedding a few tears and paying respect to those who did die in this time in history-those whose stories weren't a fictional work.
While this story is a work of fiction, I wouldn't find it hard to believe that there were many instances that were similar to this story, that actually did happen during that time, making it all the more surreal to read this book. While it was by no means a light read, being that it deals a lot with war and the realities of things done to Jews, I would say that this is a point that makes it better, and gives it heart and emotion. You can tell that the author has a deep admiration for the people who lost their lives unjustly during this horrid time in history, as it's evident in the way she writes-contributing all the more to my adding her to my list of favorite authors.
Ever since I first learned that this book was a unique combination of the Holocaust time period and a re-telling of the story of Esther, I was extremely intrigued, and eager to read this story. Now that I've finished it I can truly say this novel is a unique gem; for sure on my list of favorite books read in 2014, and one that will forever hold a place on my very-jammed bookshelf which is earned by a truly treasured story.
The amount of this novel that was heavily based on the story of Esther in the Bible was actually quite surprising to me, and I found it fascinating to read how the author tied it in with the story of Hadassah and Aric's story. It was made complete with believable bits that pertained to the time period that must have been a challenge to line up with the adaption to Esther, and made me admire the work that must have gone into preparing and writing this novel. I particularly loved how most of the chapters started with a verse from the book of Esther, and it sparked an interest to study the book of Esther in my daily devotions during the time I read this book, which I greatly benefited from. Even most of the important characters names were the same/extremely familiar and similar to those in the story of Esther. I just love how heavily the author relied on the story of Esther and made her novel as close to the original as she could. Also, the ending was just fabulous!!
The only thing I'd say was a bit of a downer for me was the amount of romance/kissing scene. While it never got inappropriate, there were a lot of kissing scenes, and at times I was a bit uncomfortable with the details of those scenes, and usually just skimmed the sentence describing it in detail. While it wasn't ever inappropriate or by any means a reason to not read the book, it was just a personal thing I didn't care for all that much. However for me it didn't really take all much away from my love for this novel.
Overall I absolutely loved every page of this novel, and soaked up the unique storyline with Esther and the WWII time period! I'd highly recommend this novel to fans of Holocaust fiction or Bible story adaptions, as this novel is sure to not disappoint! I eagerly await future novels from this author!!
D I S C L A I M E R :: I received a free copy of For Such a Time from the publisher for the sole purpose of this review. I was not paid to write this review, and was not required to write a good review if I didn't like the book. All thoughts expressed in my review are my own, completely honest and unbiased.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Sensible Arrangment By Tracie Peterson Book Review

A Sensible Arrangement

Review Written By Madi
Book Title: A Sensible Arrangement
Author: Tracie Peterson
Source: The Litfuse Publicity Group
Genre: Christian Fiction
Number Of Pages: 324
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Year Of Publication: 2014
My Rating: Four out of Five Stars
Book Description
Marty Dandridge Olson is a widow looking for a way out of Texas. Widower Jake Wythe has secured a job as a bank manager in Denver, only to discover that the bank board wants him to be a married man. With Texas in his roots, he advertises for a Lone Star bride, and Marty answers the call. They both agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.

Marty works to carve out a new life in high-society Denver as Jake works to guide the bank through a collapsing economy. But when money goes missing at the bank and accounting discrepancies point to Jake, he must find a way to prove his innocence. Yet all he wants to do is go back to Texas and own his own ranch. Marty, on the other hand, owns a ranch–one she’s never told her husband about. She hates Texas because it represents the losses in her life. But as the couple grows closer and love begins to bloom, Marty realizes she needs to tell Jake the truth. Can she come to terms with the past and her anger toward God in order to make room for love?
Book Review
 I would like to start off by congratulating Tracie Peterson for finishing this, her one hundredth book! That it quite the accomplishment, and I know that your writing has touched the hearts of many. Now, for the review! I loved the setting of this book. Though most of the story takes place in Denver, Colorado, it contains quite a bit of Texas charm with it as well. My personal opinion is that Texas is the ideal location for most novels (though I may be a LITTLE biased about my home state). I love how though Jake has become "refined" and lives a more luxurious life, he is still a Texas cowboy at heart. I wish that his personality had reflected his roots a little bit more, but I do understand that it had to be tamed a little bit to fit the story. Maybe just not as much? I also like Marty's character. Now THIS, this is a character with a backbone. Her entrance to her new, regal life was anything but. I love how she stands up for what she believes in and how she doesn't conform to what the high-society matrons expect of her. You can take the gal outta Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of the gal. Or the guy, for that matter. I love the southern roots that occasionally come through the exchanges with Marty and Jake, and I really liked Marty's simplistic views on life. Who needs all the finery that is being lavished - forced actually - on her? She is content with the clothes that she has and sees no need for fine cuisine or new draperies when the ones already in use are completely serviceable. I guess I just really like how she's so down-to-earth. Most women would be completely thrilled with the opportunity to be treated as a queen, but not Marty. Give her a day of labor in simple clothes any day. All the characters are so relatable, and I became attached to them almost instantly, (especially Alice). My only critique is that it was kind of slow for the first half or so. I was having a hard time paying attention to what I was reading. I kept finding myself admiring my pretty Azaleas that are now in full bloom, or getting up to get a snack or taking a "break". If the book that I'm reading is really interesting, I can sit in one position for hours on end. Thankfully, it picked up about halfway into it and I became fully engrossed in the story. Overall, it was a good book and I look forward to reading more from Tracie Peterson.
~Madi For The Literary Maidens
Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book by the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not further compensated to review this product and all thoughts and sentiments expressed above are completely my own and unbiased.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Beauty So Rare By Tamera Alexander Book Review

A Beauty So Rare

A Belmont Mansion Novel

Review Written By Madi
Book Title: A Beauty So Rare
Author: Tamera Alexander
Source: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Number Of Pages: 476
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0623-8
Publisher: Bethany House
Year Of Publication: 2014
My Rating: Five Out Of Five Stars
Book Description
From the USA Today bestselling author of To Whisper Her Name and A Lasting Impression comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society--and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.

Eleanor Braddock, a spinster--plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty--has long since dismissed any hope of marriage. But when a dying soldier whispers his final words, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. But this compassionate deed takes a harsh turn, and Eleanor finds herself dependent upon the richest woman in America and the most despised woman in Nashville--her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, mistress of Belmont Mansion. A clandestine act of kindness leads Eleanor to an unlikely path for her life--building a home for destitute widows and children from the Civil War. And while Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve.

Gerhard Marcus Gottfried, Archduke of the House of Habsburg and fourth in line to the Austrian throne, arrives in Nashville in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Collaborating with botanist Luther Burbank, Marcus seeks to combine his own passion for nature with his expertise in architecture. But his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widow's and children's home run contrary to the wishes of practical, frugal Eleanor, who sees his ideas as costly nonsense.

Yet as the construction project continues, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expected. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor to marry, and even if he were, someone who knows Marcus's secrets is about to reveal them all.
Book Review
 This book was FABULOUS. I read the first book in this series (A Lasting Impression), and loved it so much that after I returned it to the library I went out and bought my own copy and have read it multiple times since. Tamera Alexander is a wonderful author, and I have yet to read a book of hers that I did not thoroughly enjoy (and I have read several). She always creates such candid characters that grasp my heart with two hands and pull me through their story with them. I love how she gives each character their own little trademark quirk. It's just precious. For example, in this novel, Eleanor has a thing about pink. She detests it with her whole being. And her father, Theodore, has a soft spot for sugary treats. It's little things like these that endear a character to readers, and I'm very impressed with how well Alexander incorporates these type of things into her books. She really makes sure that you know the character you are reading about. You know their personality, looks, preferences, and background before anything huge happens so that you can see the issue at hand through the eyes of her characters. I also like how her last couple of books were rather lengthy. I know that a lot of people consider that a downer because of the time that it takes to read a book so large, but I get so caught up in her stories that I'm sad when they're over. When good books are longer, it gives you more time to fully understand what's going on, and it lets you spend a little bit more time in your favorite novel. Now if it was a rather BORING book, I would want it to be much shorter, but A Beauty So Rare is anything but boring, and when you read it you will be glad for it's length. I'm gonna travel a little off topic for a second and talk about the cover. Isn't simply gorgeous? Thumbs up to whoever designed it! It perfectly represents the story. It looks so nice next to my copy of A Lasting Impression. Another thing that I like about this book is that although it is  part of a series, it is a stand alone novel as well. That means that you can read this book (the second one) without having to read the first one. You won't feel totally lost and not know what's going on if you don't read A Lasting Impression first. There are small connections to the two books to tie them together, but nothing so major as the story plot. I can't wait to see what this author writes next!

~Madi For The Literary Maidens

Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not further compensated to review this product and all thoughts and sentiments expressed above are completely my own and unbiased.

Claiming Mariah By Pam Hillman Book Review

/ / Claiming Mariah / /

{Review Written By Madi}
Book Title: Claiming Mariah
Author: Pam Hillman
Source: The Litfuse Publicity Group
Genre: Christian Fiction
Number Of Pages: 373
ISBN: 978-1-4143-8975-2
Publisher: Tyndale Publishers
Year Of Publication: 2013
Rating: Four Out Of Five Stars
/ / Book Description / /
In light of her father's death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father's farm, the only home she's ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father's rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.With the ranch now under Slade's careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.
 / / Book Review / /
Let me start off by saying that I love western novels. Being from the South, (Texas, no less), I find it quite intriguing. I love country living and western romances, so this book had it's genre going for it before I even started reading it. When I started it, the first chapter had me kind of worried. I was afraid that it was going to be poorly written. And while Pam Hillman turned out to be no Mary Connealy, she did write an interesting story. I enjoyed it a lot! I personally think that Slade was the best part of it. He has a gruff exterior partnered with a great disdain for Mariah and her family, but underneath was hidden a compassionate heart that just needed a little bit of nurturing to be brought to it's full potential. I also liked Mariah's character. She is a strong person, but she knows when to toss in the towel. Though I much prefer my heroines to be a spitfire with a backbone of steel (which is much easier to relate to), I think the author made Mariah just the way that she needed to be in order to help Slade in the ways that she did. She is a tenderhearted character that is willing to give up almost everything for Slade's happiness. She hopes that her small efforts will show him how much his heavenly father loves him, even if his earthly father did not. Though I find this admirable, I think that there was a better way to go about it. I would have liked to see Mariah stand up for her family a bit more in the beginning, and I would have liked to see Slade's point of view a little bit more often throughout the book. Don't get me wrong, I really liked it, but it's not exactly a page turner. It is, however, a good time passer, and I would encourage some of my friends to read it if they were looking for a light, quick read.
 ~The Literary Maidens
Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion by the Litfuse publicity group. I was not further compensated to review this product and all thoughts and sentiments expressed above are completely my own and unbiased.