Monday, May 30, 2016

The Magnolia Duchess (Gulf Coast Chronicles, #3) book review

 The Magnolia Duchess (Gulf Coast Chronicles, #3)

The Magnolia Duchess (Gulf Coast Chronicles #3)

Fiona Lanier is the only woman in the tiny Gulf Coast settlement of Navy Cove. While her shipbuilding family races to fill the demand for American ships brought by the War of 1812, Fiona tries to rescue her brother who was forced into service by the British Navy.

Lieutenant Charlie Kincaid has been undercover for six months, obtaining information vital to the planned British invasion of New Orleans. When a summer storm south of Mobile Bay wrecks his ship and scatters the crew, Charlie suffers a head injury, ultimately collapsing in the arms of a beautiful mermaid who seems eerily familiar. As Charlie's memory returns in agonizing jags and crashes, he and Fiona discover that falling in love may be as inevitable as the tide. But when political loyalties begin to collide, they'll each have to decide where their true heart lies.

My review: 10/10


They say to never judge a book by its cover. And this is why. Though the cover is lovely, this book is so much more than lovely.

It was such a perfect blend of heaping doses of history, adventure, realistic, relatable characters, challenges and growth in faith, and love that I couldn't put it down. And felt the urge to read it all over again, immediately upon finishing it, savoring rather than devouring, this time.

The history was clearly painstakingly researched, and the effect was that you really felt like you were there. It was so fascinating. The changing view points, which typically annoys me, made total sense due to the war setting of the novel.

The adventure was larger than life, reminiscent of Bible stories. And there were several major characters' stories intertwined and woven together despite vastly different heritages. Their personalities and reactions to situations were very human, unapologetically so. I expected Fiona's character to fall apart several times and no matter what, no matter how things looked and, I believe, no matter how things could have gone, she always pushed on. She always endured. Definitely the kind of heroine I want to read about.

I appreciated that her fire, intelligence, skills, and penchant for men's pants didn't make her completely devoid of female sensibilities (particularly those of the time period) like crying, feeling frustrated and talked down to, worries that she wasn't taken seriously, and just naive judgment sometimes.

I only imagine what it was like to live through those times. But I believe the only way to emerge intact would be to place your hope firmly in the Lord, as atested to in this book. It was so well done. Really, all of this book was so well done. It was just so good. Seriously, stop reading this review and get your hands on a copy.

Monday, May 23, 2016

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer book review

 No Other Will Do

No Other Will Do

Men are optional. That's the credo Emma Chandler's suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women's colony in Harper's Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight--and she knows just the one.

Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma's plea arrives, he bolts to Harper's Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she's not a girl any longer. She's a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn't deserve.

As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

My review: 8/10

I enjoyed this book. There were parts that had me laughing and smiling and were just what I had been hoping for.

I don't usually like blatant women's movement stories during this time period because it usually seems too progessive and unnatural for the time; it's not usually believable for me. But this one was different. The attitudes and struggles felt authentic. And there was a lot of originality; I don't recall having read a historical novel involving an explosives expert before nor a full women's colony.

The story reminds me of an old western, so naturally there is gun slinging drama and face offs that just aren't my taste. But it didn't overwhelm the story.

My favorite parts of the story were actually the beginning/backstories. I could have read a whole novel about a kid's survival and what shapes him into the man he becomes. It was very well done.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

An Elegant Facade (Hawthorne House #2) by Kristi Ann Hunter book review

 An Elegant Facade (Hawthorne House, #2)

An Elegant Facade (Hawthorne House #2)

Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl.
With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he's irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance.
What Colin doesn't know is that Georgina's desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina's plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.


My review: 10/10

This book was phenomenal. I think I liked it even better than the first book, and that's saying a lot. How exciting to have a new author to love and anticipate!

There was a lot of overlap between the two books. There is certainly good reason for it, and I probably would have found it more interesting if I had just recently finished the first book.

The themes of faith and belonging and purpose are more subtle for most of the book until they really pick up at the end, which I found realistic. We often try to relegate God to the background until we realize how lost we've gotten ourselves, don't we?

The struggles were brutally honest at times and the thinking, though flawed was very human, very relatable. Each character's voice was distinct and the romance was not too over-the-top dramatic.

I highly recommend this book and cannot wait for Ms. Hunter's future books.