Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Love's Awakening review


Love's Awakening

The path to true love lies somewhere between two feuding families
In the spring of 1822, Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school and returns to the family home in Pittsburg only to find that her parents are away on a long journey and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. Determined to stand her ground and find her place in the world, Ellie fills her time by opening a day school for young ladies.
But when one of her students turns out to be an incorrigible young member of the Turlock family, Ellie knows she must walk a fine line. Slaveholders and whiskey magnates, the Turlocks are envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly entangled with the rival clan--particularly the handsome Jack Turlock--she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future. Will she betray her family and side with the enemy?
Masterful storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love and loyalty. This is the Ballantyne Legacy.

My Review: 9/10

I really enjoyed this book. As a native of Pittsburgh, I found the historical information very interesting. I can imagine it was just as beautiful as it is today.

I tend to avoid period stories that center so strongly on the issue of slavery, just because it's so overdone. While an important and interesting part of history, many novels that center on it seem to only show one opinion, one kind of protagonist and a flat and predictable storyline. To me, it's interesting to read a multitude of viewpoints and a main character can be be fascinating without being progressive.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with this book. The Ballantyne's involvement is a little extreme and it does appear to paint slave holders as being singularly evil people. But as I mentioned, these elements are typical, so I was able to look past it because the rest of the book was so good.

I enjoyed the imperfect portrayals of the various family members and relationships. The romance was predictable, but fairly well done. I didn't realize this was a sequel when I requested it, but it read just fine as a standalone novel. That being said, I will definitely be reading the first book, which I've since heard is even better, as well as looking for the 3rd book when it gets released next year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rebellious Heart book review

Rebellious Heart

Rebellious Heart

Because she's a woman, higher learning was always closed to Susanna Smith. But her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge. And she's determined to marry well, so she'll be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.

Growing up with little to his name, poor country lawyer Benjamin Ross dreams of impacting the world for the better. When introduced to the Smiths he's taken by Susanna's intelligence and independent spirit, but her parents refuse to see him as a suitor for their daughter.

When the life of a runaway indentured servant is threatened, Susanna is forced to choose between justice and mercy, and Ben becomes her unlikely advisor. But drawing closer to this man of principle and intellect lands her in a dangerous, secret world of rebellion and revolution against everything she once held dear

My Review: 2/10

It was a little slow going at first, but then became a page turner, but not in a good way. I was a little confused about the set up of the romance in the first couple of chapters. I found the scene in the beginning... odd. There is a total lack of regard for propriety, which I found hard to believe. The atmosphere was way too sexually charged. I have a 5, almost 6 year old. I cannot believe that anyone would hold against her something offensive that she may have said, no matter how sensitive they may be. And it seemed way too far fetched that they would both remember the words and have any emotions connected to them 13 years later. But this was an accurate preview of the melodrama that would ensue throughout the rest of the book.

I regretted reading it afterward because it was way too violent and disturbing for my taste, which was unexpected with a romantic historical fiction novel. Luckily for me, with a trite romance for the baseline, it was soon forgotten.

A Talent for Trouble book review

A Talent for Trouble (Ladies of Distinction #3)

A Talent for Trouble 

Miss Felicia Murdock firmly believed her destiny was to become a minister's wife. When the minister on whom she had set her sights marries another lady, Felicia is forced to take a close look at her life and comes to a few uncomfortable conclusions. Determined that something needs to change--and soon--Felicia discovers she is finally ready to spread her wings and embrace life the way she's always wanted.

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

Intent on remaining independent, Felicia is reluctant to accept Grayson's help, especially as she finds herself developing feelings for him. However, just as Grayson decides he's had quite enough of her antics, his past comes back to haunt him and his presence in her life has endangered Felicia. Will Grayson and Felicia decide they want to spend the rest of their lives keeping one another out of trouble?

My Review: 3/10

This book was definitely an improvement over the last two. The first 5 chapters or so were really engaging- interesting, fairly well written and funny. But things quickly went downhill after that. It was so hard to slog through that it took me 3 months to get through 75% of it, before deciding that it had dragged on long enough and life is too short to waste time reading books that hold zero interest for me. I'm sure I could predict every major plot wrap-up anyway.

The writing style was almost constantly distracting. Each and every sentence was too wordy, stuffed to the brim with the same 10-15 adverbs, such as entirely, slightly, disturbingly, rather, quite etc. and phrases like "clearly evident."

The plot was transparent immediately, but it was more the way that it was stretched out that bothered me. Felicia's story would have kept my interest longer if it had started earlier, with more of her pursuit of the reverend being covered. The shenanigans she'd have gotten into and her obliviousness to her feelings being widely known could have been very entertaining. And it would have given time for Grayson to develop real feelings, being present, though not front and center until the middle/end.

I'd have liked to then see Grayson make a stand for her (it would have been so much better than the whole, "she'll never love me, I don't deserve her" self pity reminiscent of Twilight. So unattractive), and her learn to trust and love a man with a past over time. There could have a been a great Christian message there. While Ms. Turano does acknowledge these themes, they are only challenges for the blink of an eye, before the heroine senses from God that she is being judgemental and should forgive Grayson. The rapidity of tehe switch was nrealistic and unrelatable.

I thought she missed the point with Eliza and Grayson's talk. It started well, but went downhill when in response to Grayson's comment that God couldn't or wouldn't forgive his level of sin, Eliza was decides to talk Grayson out of taking as much responsibility as he did and feeling the levels of guilt that went along with it. What? I think the message should have been, God, the creator of the universe and every cell in your body is capable of forgiving any level of sin. And to harbor guilt after asking for forgiveness is to hold disbelief of His power in your heart. Ask Him for forgiveness, give your guilt over to Him and ask Him to help you start fresh. Because He can and He will if you will only come to Him.

I like Ms. Turano's humorous approach and I still think she has potential, but I think she misses opportunities for better stories when pursuing the cheap and tired storyline.