Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Quarryman's Bride

The Quarryman's Bride (Land of Shining Water, #2)

The Quarryman's Bride

Emmalyne Knox and Tavin MacLachlan were destined to be together...until the tragic deaths of Emmalyne's youngest sisters. Family tradition mandates that the youngest daughter should remain single to care for her parents in their old age, and now that daughter is Emmalyne. Her father unyielding, Emmalyne surrenders to her duty, heartbroken. Tavin leaves town, equally devastated.

Years later, Emmalyne's family moves, and she and Tavin meet again. Their feelings for each other are as strong as ever, but their painful past and Emmalyne's father still stand between them. Soon both families are in the midst of the growing conflict rising between the workers at the granite quarry that Tavin's father owns and operates. When a series of near-fatal accidents occur, Tavin must figure out who is behind the attacks before someone gets killed.

Bound by obligation, yet yearning for a future together, can Emmalyne and Tavin dare to dream that God could heal a decade-long wound and change the hearts of those who would stand in the way of true love?

My Review: 3/10
I think this is a generous rating. This book was boring at best and senselessly depressing at worst.

I just did not enjoy this book. I admit, I did not read the first one, because I did not realize this was a series. And After reading the first few chapters, I did skim the next twenty percent of the book.

The only positive thing I have to say is that it was a breath of fresh air to read about a heroine who was obedient, humble and servant, rather than a fierce, ahead-of-her-time pistol. But I felt this character was wasted. We are introduced to a heartbreaking situation, fastforwarded ELEVEN YEARS LATER with no time spent, not even blips, in their lives. This story could have been stronger if we had been taken along on that ride and could have seen firsthand how Emmy grew to despair for her mother, find companionship with her brother and grew to resent her father. But nope, the author obviously feels these are all unimportant when contrasted to her broken engagement; they're briefly brought up later and quickly resolved.

And, despite her admission of such feelings, I didn't see that her actions followed suit, making it unbelievable. For example, many women would be hardened, turned weak or bitter or angry etc, after so many years of pain and suffering and unappreciated sacrifice. The first man to pay her attention (and a possible escape) would have certainly at least proved to be a temptation. Not so with Emmy.

Anyway, the story picks up with us being dropped in eleven years later to see that nothing has changed, but they are packing up and returning home. I think the lack of change was unrealistic. And I was completely bored by the next TWENTY PERCENT of the book being spent on talking about how she spruced up the dump and made it a home. Ugh.

I was surprised by Emmy's friend, Fenella's, storyline. I just couldn't see the point.

I have witnessed people doing 180 degree changes in personality. But this happened SO rapidly and we didn't really get insight into Luthias' feelings or motivations. I was confused by some contradictions where he was concerned, like his questioning Tavin on his feelings the first time. His conversion was not gradual at all.

Things wrapped up too smoothly at the end, which was just not believable for me, especially not where Fenella was concerned. I have siblings, in laws and friends and I can't imagine behaving the way ANY of the characters did if this happened to one of my family or friends.

And I did not get pulled into the subplot of the trouble with the union. I just couldn't get into it.

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Stealing the Preacher Review

Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the Preacher 

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the person is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?

My Review: 8.5/10 

I absolutely loved 90% of this book. I was frequently chuckling or smiling to myself over the sweetness of it all. The "stealing" of the preacher was a fresh idea and the characters had substance. I liked that Crockett was drawn to her unorthodox beauty right away, but was attracted to other women as well; it was realistic. I felt that his falling in love with her was natural and I loved that he had deep, concrete reasons, as opposed to the flimsy ones that are typically used in books of this genre.

I loved that Silas' story had just as much significance as the romance. I thought his progression was realistic as well; any Christian could relate to a loved one rebuffing God. I appreciated the messages of steady patience and prayer as the remedy.

Short Straw Bride was one of the first historical christian romances I read and I really enjoyed it. Over time, I have come to appreciate it even more when compared to others of its kind. This book took off so quickly, that I really thought Jo and Crockett would get married early on the book. That would have been so refreshing. I mean, why is it that romance authors seem to think the story *ends* with marriage?! That's when it just gets started! Not to mention, it would have thrown more weight into Silas' relationship with Christ. Oh well.

But what really got me was the extreme melodrama at the end. All of sudden, there's an attempted hanging and before you can blink, another man getting carted off to prison. These instances were just too extreme for my taste, because they cheapened and undermined the message of steady faithfulness and they just weren't relatable nor realistic. I didn't buy into Silas' reaction to his faith being tested so harshly and so swiftly after beginning to believe the gospel.

For me, the last ten percent, starting with Holly showing up with a "peace offering" all the way to the end is where everything unraveled. The ending may not have been as "exciting" but it would have been more impactful if it had been better grounded in humble reality.

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Thursday, June 13, 2013

After The Ending Review

After The Ending (The Ending, #1)

After The Ending 

The first book in a new Post-apocalyptic Romance series.

The Virus spread. Billions died. The Ending began. We may have survived the apocalypse, but the Virus changed us.

When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family…they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them—with the rest of the world—but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was so wrong. My name is Dani O’Connor, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’ve been stripped of my home, my dreams…all that is me. I’m someone else now—broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe Cartwright, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing—we’ll do anything to reach one another. Fear and pain may be unavoidable, but we’re strong…we’re survivors. But to continue surviving in this unfamiliar world plagued by Crazies and strange new abilities, we have to adapt. We have to evolve.

And more than anything, we have to find each other.


If you have a problem with descriptive PDA, death and language, this is not the book for you.

My Review: 7-8 , I go back and forth.

The best thing about this book was the pace. It was a real page turner that I just could not put down, and any conflicts that posed serious threats were handled almost -immediately-. I've never read anything quite like it. Part of me was relieved because I don't enjoy evil being drawn out, and part of me was like, that's it? So easy? But like I said, it really kept the pace moving.

I did think the language was a -little- overdone. I was a little annoyed with how anyone opposed to the main character was immediately, emphatically, relentlessly called a bitch. Like five times per paragraph. And of course they were pure evil. This book kind of categorizes people as good or evil. There's no in between. I'm not sure if it's fair since this seems to be a requirement of the plot (either you're a crazy or a survivor...) but it made for kind of flat characters which bugged me.

The funny thing was that I didn't feel like the plot was clear; death strikes almost immediately and I wasn't really sure what the whole point/problem/plot was. It kind of seemed like I just got to experience it with them and -that- was the point. Normally this would really frustrate me, but it kind of added an element of authenticity.

I felt like Dani and Zoe were the same person, but not in a good way; their sex scenes were literally described exactly the same way.

And I thought that the Abilities were not distinctive/unique enough. I thought it was kind of lame to give Dani SUCH a strong power. I mean being able to speak to animals would have been enough, but to be telepathic with people too? And hundreds /thousands at a time? Overkill. As a side note, I totally would have sent all manner of lethal wild cats after Cece and Carla. Problem solved.

Those were the things I had problems with, but they were not enough to keep me from getting into it. Like I said, it was hard to put down. I like the apocalypse AND super power themes put together and I feel like there's so much mystery left to uncover that I'm really looking forward to the next one.

*I was given a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Most Peculiar Circumstance Review

A Most Peculiar Circumstance (Ladies of Distinction, #2) A Most Peculiar Circumstance 
Miss Arabella Beckett has one driving passion: to help the downtrodden women of America. Naturally, she supports the women's suffrage movement and eagerly attends rallies and lectures across the country. On her travels, she makes a simple offer of assistance to a young woman in need that goes sadly awry and lands both ladies in more trouble than they can manage. An independent sort, Arabella is loath to admit she needs help and certainly doesn't need help from an arrogant, narrow-minded knight in shining armor.

Mr. Theodore Wilder, private investigator extraordinaire, is on a mission. A mission that began as a favor to his good friend Hamilton Beckett, but swiftly evolved into a merry chase across the country. By the time he finally tracks down Hamilton's sister, Arabella, he is in a less than pleasant mood. When the lady turns out to have radical ideas and a fiercely independent streak, he soon finds himself at his wit's end.

When they return home to New York, circumstances force their paths to continue to cross, but the most peculiar feelings growing between them certainly can't be love. When the trouble Arabella had accidentally stirred up seems to have followed her to New York and threatens her very life, the unlikely couple must face the possibility that they might have landed in the most peculiar circumstance of all: love.

My Review: 2/10

Oy. The first half wasn't horrible. Several times I thought to myself, "Okay, compared to her first book, her writing is getting better; she really has some potential." And then the second half happened and it was so bad that it more than made up for first half being tolerable.

I found nothing about the prostitutes, except maybe one or two of Dot's lines, to be believable- nothing in their characterization nor any other of the other characters' reception of them. And then, when Arabella announces to a bunch of people she just met that none of the prostitutes would "proposition a man in this household because they are honorable," just mere sentences after privately reflecting she'd just heard Sarah quietly speak for the second time ever, I about lost it. The poor characterization isn't even consistent!

Again, I found none of the other character's attitudes or prejudices accurate; there were none. Pretty much everyone is liberal and progressive. If they aren't, they will be shown the light and join up in record time. There is no depth, no flaws to any of them. They were so flat I could easily interchange one for any other.

There is no suspense or mystery in this book. The murder subplot is clearly explained from the very beginning, and then the author kindly reminds you who the culprits are halfway through, in case you might have forgotten that the suspects are limited and have been rather obvious.

Also, it is not normal for everyone to like you. They all loved her. Pretty much immediately. Anyone who didn't was eventually brought to reason. Which, as I said, is not normal, and what's worse, it's boring.

What was with Arabella constantly reflecting that Theodore was "...intriguing," and Theodore going back and forth between thinking she's "...approachable," or "...unapproachable?" Ugh.

And that reminds me, the dialect and the use of Christian names really threw me off.

About 60% through, I was so thoroughly bored that I started skimming. There was no mystery to how this story was going to play out and I really didn't want to ingest anymore sugary sweet exchanges.

I don't even know why anyone would bother to read the following books. The author has made it clear that Zayne ends up with Agatha and Felicia ends up with Grayson. My bet is that it will play out like the first two books: progressive woman + prejudiced man + extreme circumstances + fighting their affections for one another, and then BOOM, the pretenses drop and they're in love. But I probably will read them because, evidently I'm a glutton for punishment.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Island Review

The IslandThe Island

‘I walk toward the sea. The endless surface of the water extends to the horizon, whichever way I look.

Our world is small. We are on our own, and we only have ourselves to depend on. We rely on the Force deep within us, as taught to us by our forefathers.

If I were to walk westward from here, I would come across a barrier – the Wall. Behind it, there are Fools. At least, that’s what everyone says.

I have never seen one.’

Leia lives on the Island, a world in which children leave their parents to take care of themselves when they are ten years old. Across this Island runs a wall that no one has ever crossed. The Fools living behind it are not amenable to reason – they believe in illusions. That’s what The Book says, the only thing left to the Eastern Islanders by their ancestors.
But when a strange man washes ashore and Leia meets a Fool face to face, her life will never be the same. Is what she and her friends believe about the Island really true?

Or is everyone in their world, in fact, a Fool?

(Please note: this novella contains a few references to the famous sci-fi movie Star Wars which are pivotal to the plot. None of the characters in The Island are in any way related to the characters in the movie.)

My Review: 6.5/10

I've not read a lot of novellas/short stories, because I often find them incomplete or rushed. And those are the complaints I have with this book.

It was an interesting concept. I agree with other reviewers that the star wars connections initially raised an eyebrow. As it went on and more unravelled, it really turned me off. BUT the conclusion put everything together and made it alright.

The writing was decent, the storyline interesting, the characters mostly likeable. It kind of reminded me of Lord of the Flies, with much less corruption, although that may have been due to limited pages in comparison.

I felt like the romance was WAYTOORUSHED and the plot happened so fast that I really didn't have a chance to -feel- the suspense. If it had been lengthened into a full novel with another hundred and fifty pages or so, I think it could have really been something.

(NetGalley provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reign Review

Reign: The Chronicles Of Queen Jezebel (Lost Loves of the Bible #3)Reign: The Chronicles Of Queen Jezebel 

Beyond the Drama, Her Heart Was Real
From the moment her marriage to prince Ahab thrusts her into the intrigues of palace life, Jezebel’s exotic beauty opens doors and her will breaks down walls. Torn from her homeland and wed to power in a strange country, Jezebel vows to create a legacy and power all her own. Some might call her a manipulative schemer, bent on having her way. But they don’t know the whole story, and she was much, much worse. As she moves through the halls of power, her heart struggles between devotion to the gods she worships, the prince who loves her, and her thirst for revenge. She sparks a battle between her strangely powerless gods and the God of palace administrator Obadiah—a God who confronts her with surprising might. She will fight, though victory may cost her everything.

My Review: 8/10

I read this not being previously familiar with Jezebel’s story. All I could recall was that Jezebel = bad. I mean, even her name is a derogatory word these days. So I wasn’t sure which direction this book would take.

I read a couple of reviews before starting because I hadn't realized at first that this was one in a series, and wasn't sure if I'd be able to read it without having first read the previous two. If you're in the same boat, don't worry, this book stands alone. The reviews disheartened me because I am a very empathetic and sensitive person when it comes to violence. But I trudged on. The author wastes no time diving right into the sin, cruelty and perversion. I didn’t think it was as graphic as others thought. Though painful to read, particularly because these things are not just fiction, they happened, it was bearable.

I quickly came to understand Elijah’s sorrow. After his curse, I had a horrible sense of foreboding: This was going to get a whole lot worse. I could see things unraveling. How could Ahab not? How could he not be more affected, more nervous, more driven to set things right? And not just for himself, he was bringing this upon his people as well. I guess it’s in our human nature to want to hope things work out okay even when we’re making destructive decisions. We have the completed Bible, so we know when there’s no hope for a situation. Although, they had prophets, so they knew it too. I guess it just comes down to faith. And as Ahab says, he was born without Hebrew blood, without religion. He even states early on that, “whether or not they are real, the gods are for us,” showing that he had no faith.

This was the low point for me. I knew enough that I knew Jezebel’s story would not end well, and if this was the beginning… well I braced myself for further pain and suffering. It did get better though. I wanted to root for Ahab and of course would wish that Jezebel and her people would turn from evil and know God. But though I could not know that relief, I was able to rejoice for Elijah and the nation of Israel regaining their sanity.

Bottom line, I would recommend this book. I expected to learn a little more about Jezebel and Ahab, and the people of that time, possibly even a little bit about human nature and how their failings are ones that are still relevant to us today. And yes, I did glean all of that, but what I took away from this book was a better understanding of my Father. I got a glimpse of the pain and frustration and rage over the events that took place, but also the mercy and love.

On side note, the only complaint about the writing that I had was that the dates jumped around too casually. I think the author intending it this way to give the passage of time a feel of melting away, but it had the opposite affect on me, as I had to stop every time I noticed and get my bearings and try to figure out where all the characters were and what was going on. And I appreciated the few facts at the end of the book- simply unthinkable!