Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer's List: A Book Review

*I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
                                                                     About the Book: 
Displaying A dying wish alters the course of a young woman's life.

Life hadn't been easy for Summer Snow. In acts of selflessness---caring for her ailing parents and running her grandmother's bookstore---she had forfeited her youth and dreams for the needs of others. And the only tries she had at love . . . didn't turn out. She had the bookstore, she had her beloved granny, but she was missing something---or someone.

Opportunity strikes when Granny sends Summer on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer's past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?

My Review: 
I was first drawn to this book because the plot sounded original and whimsical, the perfect combination for a summer read! And I loved the cover, I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it generally works out well for me when I do.  However, this was not one of those books.  After the first few chapters I was really struggling to keep was just, painful to read. If I hadn't agreed to review this book I would never have finished it. 

 Since I don't like to just bash on a book, here are my reasons for giving it such a poor review:

-The dialogue is extremely formal, and the words do not flow naturally which makes the writing seem juvenile. Think "How are you today?" "I'm well, and yourself?" While those lines aren't in the book, that was the type of feel the dialogue had throughout the entire story.

-There were very few descriptions added in to accentuate the dialogue, which made for dull settings

-The descriptions that were there were simply not descriptive...and I quote "She dressed in a nice outfit-navy blue with a white vest." Navy blue what? Dress? Shirt? Pajamas? We have no idea!

-Higman switched points of view in the middle of a scene making it hard to follow at times

-She used the same words multiple times in a sentence, which, to me, is an indication of poor writing. "Summer glanced over the list and read from the list." "...amused at the sound of the funny smacking sound..."

-Not to mention that the characters were poorly developed and lacked depth. For having just broken off her engagement Summer moves on way too quickly for it to be believable.  Martin's character is thrown in too easily.  The situation with Martin's brothers and family is just...weird, and unrealistic.  There was nothing leading up to his brother's about face and change of heart, so it seemed really scripted.  

Overall, I found that the book lacked heart.  Between the stilted dialogue, lack of character depth, and nondescript scenes I have to say that I would not recommend this book.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children: A Book Review

* I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. the Book (from the back cover): "When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
   Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.
   Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way."

My Review:
I had never read any of Sarah McCoy's books before, and after reading The Mapmaker's Children, I am itching to get my hands on her previous novels! This book pulled me in from the very beginning, and I had a hard time putting it down.  It can be hard to write a book that goes between two different time periods and seamlessly weaves the two different stories together, but McCoy does so flawlessly.  I found both Sarah Brown and Eden Anderson's stories intriguing and didn't skip ahead to read just one part, as I normally end up doing when books cover multiple time lines.

I have always loved the Civil War era and tales of the Underground Railroad so I was thrilled to discover new facts I had never known before concerning the use of dolls as maps to help lead the way to freedom.  It was obvious that McCoy did her research and I loved learning more about John Brown's family, and their role in the Underground Railroad.

The characters were well-developed and real. I especially like spunky, young Cleo and the relationship between Freddy and Sarah.  I could see how some people would think Eden was annoying, but with her character having been on hormone treatments and trying to unsuccessfully conceive a child for 7 years, I found her struggles believable. I enjoyed watching her grow and change throughout the book.

This is one of the better books I have read so far this year; so if you're a fan of historical fiction with a little bit of mystery thrown in I would highly recommend it!

For more information about Sarah McCoy and her other novels, click here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself: A Book Review

About the Book:
"Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together.  But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore. Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?"

My Review:
While I liked Ganshert's "A Broken Kind of Beautiful", I truly enjoyed reading The Art of Losing Yourself".  I found myself thinking about the characters throughout the day, and wasn't ready for the story to end.  Ganshert does a wonderful job of tackling tough issues, such as infertility, miscarriage, and broken relationships, all with a measure of grace. The characters are flawed and relatable; and I loved that not everything works out picture perfect in the end, because that's how life really is.  Although, I would have liked just a little more closure at the end, as I felt it was a little abrupt. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

For a sneak peek at the first chapter, click here!
* I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: "A Love Like Ours" & A Giveaway!

* I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

About The Book:
Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

My Review: 

This is one of those cases where the saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" rings true.  I hesitated on signing up to review this book as the cover looked like the equivalent to a cheesy Hallmark movie, but I couldn't have been more wrong!  In fact, the cover was the only thing I disliked about the book, as the models looked like they were 16 as opposed to being in their 30s like the characters were.  Minor details though :)

This was the first book I'd read by Becky Wade and I am smitten with her writing style. She has the gift of writing memorable, in-depth characters you can relate to and feel invested in, all within a few sweeping sentences.  

"A Love Like Ours" was more than just your average love story. I appreciated how Wade dealt with a heavier topic such as PTSD, and its affects on not only the individual but those around them.  It was obvious she did her research, and it comes out in her writing.  Lyndie James and Jake Porter are wonderfully written characters and great foils for one another, but Wade doesn't let their relationship come too easily.  I felt as though her portrayal of their relationship was realistic, and she even addressed the fact that very rarely can you change a man by dating him. 

"A Love Like Ours" is a beautifully written story about love, perseverance, and clinging to the truth that God is good even in the midst of hard times. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to reading the other books in Wade's Porter family series.

When you buy "A Love Like Ours" from now until May 17th, a percentage of the proceeds will be given to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes fund. Click here to buy your copy and support a great cause!

Fall in love with Becky Wade's new book, A Love Like Ours, a story of healing, romance, and cowboys. A glimmer of the hope Jake thought he’d lost returns when Lyndie lands back in Texas, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

To celebrate the release of her new book, Becky is giving away a $100 cash card and a book-inspired prize pack!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $100 cash card
  • A copy of A Love Like Ours
  • A copy of the Secretariat DVD
  • A scarf
  • A dog-tag/cross keychain
  • A pair of earrings
  • A Texas-shaped cutting board
  • A Jake Porter mug
love like ours - prize pack 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 26th. Winner will be announced May 27th on Becky's site.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tiffany Girl: A Book Review

When I heard that Deeanne Gist was putting together a launch team to promote her new book, Tiffany Girl, coming out May 5th, I jumped at the chance!

Gist's books are always incredibly well researched; and it shows in her detailed writing that transports you back in time like no other historical fiction books can.  She has a way of drawing you in right from the beginning and creating in-depth characters you can't help but love, flaws and all.

 I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Tiffany Girls, of Tiffany Co. fame, who helped Louis Comfort Tiffany complete the Tiffany Chapel for exhibition at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. These incredible women stepped up to the challenge after the glassworkers went on strike, and helped pave the way for working women.

Gist also addresses the obstacles these women faced, such as picketers, "bustle pinchers" on the streetcars, and the struggles of making a life for themselves apart from the home.  As in all her books, Gist is able to seamlessly incorporate historical information such as: the invention of basketball at the YMCA, and other forms of entertainment like the board game Old Maid and phenakistoscopes (say that 10 times fast!)

And of course no Gist book is complete without a hefty dose of romance!

Books go on sale May 5th and you can pre-order yours here!
For more information on Deeanne Gist and her other books, visit her website.

(For those of you that have read Gist's books in the past, she is now publishing for the general market. With that being said, I still found her book to have good values, with no explicit content, making it an enjoyable read for everyone!)

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