Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Into The Whirlwind" by Elizabeth Camden

I saw this book in the bookstore and it immediately intrigued me with the cover art. It has a beautiful cover and the purple dress was definitely an eye catcher for me as that is my favorite color. I take after my Gen in that regard (that's my grandmother). The back didn't intrigue me enough to make me purchase the book in the store. When I saw this one listed as part of my book review program through Bethany House, however, I jumped on it. I was looking forward to the book and have another by the author that is waiting with my ever growing stack of "to be read" books. The book is set during and after the Great Chicago Fire. I have read books set in this time period but never in this specific setting. I greatly enjoyed the history of the situation and the perspectives of the characters as they endured the Fire and began rebuilding afterwards. In fact, I wish there had been a bit more focus on the event of the Fire. That is how the book starts but does not make up the majority of the book. Not that I would want to be in the midst of ashes for the entire 374 pages! I just would have liked a bit more. Also, you know something is amiss when your lead characters have already found each other and fallen madly in love just 100 pages in. And there begin the twists and turns and complications. The writing style was good and held my interest for sure but I just didn't feel connected enough with the characters. Specifically, I didn't feel the relationship was developed enough between Mollie and Zack. I was also a little confused when Colonel Lowe came across one way but then all of sudden changed seemingly just to fit the story line. And the wishy-washy, back and forth feelings along with the somewhat immature and petty exchange was a bit distracting. Also, the issues of Zack's personal ethics were never really dealt with or brought to a resolution in my opinion. I did enjoy Dr. Buchanan and Sophie. Well, not that I liked Sophie especially at first. I wanted to smack her but that was what I was supposed to want to do after all. Overall, the book is still a good read - just not great. Would I read the author again? Probably, but that other book won't be at the top of the pile to read just yet. See the publisher's synopsis below. I received this book for free as part of Bethany House's blogger review program in exchange for my review. Back Cover: "As owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, Mollie Knox's future looks bright until the night the legendary Great Chicago Fire destroys her beloved city. With her world crumbling around her, Mollie will do whatever it takes to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating fire. Zack Kazmarek, an influential attorney for one of Chicago's finest department stores, is a force to be reckoned with among the city's most powerful citizens. Bold and shrewd, he's accustomed to getting exactly what he wants--until he meets Mollie Knox, the beguiling businesswoman just beyond his reach. In the tumult as the people of Chicago race to rebuild a bigger and better city, Mollie comes face-to-face with the full force of Zack's character and influence. Zack believes this may finally be his chance to win her, but can Mollie ever accept this man and his whirlwind effect on her life, especially with her treasured company on the line?"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"The Tutor's Daughter" by Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen in one of my go-to authors. I don't even read the synopsis anymore on the back cover so I won't ruin anything. I just buy the book and enjoy it thoroughly. This has been the case with all her books I have read and I always greatly anticipate the release of a new one. This is her latest and it does not disappoint. I've included the publisher synopsis below so that you can read it and I can focus on telling you my thoughts not rehashing an already well written summary. Julie Klassen's books always state that she loves all things Jane referring to Jane Austen and Jane Eyre. This book was a little more Jane Eyre than Jane Austen to me and I definitely prefer Jane Austen. However, I would still not hesitate to recommend this book. It is up to Ms. Klassen's superb standards. There is a bit of intrigue included to keep you guessing, mismatched loves, and even a dash of !intentions thrown in to the mix. If you haven't tried Ms. Klassen, I urge you to give her a try. You may just become an addict like myself! Publisher Synopsis: Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes? The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her... When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart? Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.

"The Governess of Highland Hall" by Carrie Turansky

I love a good Brit Lit book and a manor setting is even better. I am also a big fan of Downton Abbey and this book reminded me of the series in several ways so if you like the show you'll probably like this book as well. The book is set in the same time period - early 1900s - at a country manor house. We get a view of life both upstairs and downstairs. In other words, we get a taste of of the aristocracy that own the estate and the servants that work for them. I enjoyed having multiple points-of-view throughout the book. We get the most from our two main characters - the governess and the baron of the manor. The storyline kept me interested even though some of it was predictable but most books are in my opinion. Regardless, there were several turns I didn't see coming. This is the first book I have read by the author but I would definitely read another by her. My biggest criticism is that the heroine seemed almost too perfect. I certainly would have wanted to smack some of those characters under the same circumstances or at least give them a piece of my mind. At the same time, though, it did make me think about how much thought I give before I act or speak and asking what God would have me do. All good food for thought so that I appreciated. And I certainly wanted to know if there were any repercussions for the housekeeper in the end. Without spoiling it for you, let's just say that she always had her own interests in mind regardless of who they hurt or how she accomplished them. Sneaky snake. I received this book for free through the Blogging for Books program of WaterBrook Multnomah publishers in exchange for my review.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner

First a very short summary. A girl longs to go to her grandmother's homeland of Italy - specifically Florence. She finally goes and meets up with a local contact (she is a possible book author for the main character's publishing house) who is very knowledgeable on the art and history of Florence but also happens to hear the voice of a dead relative speak to her through various artwork. When I chose this book, I knew the premise was a bit odd for my taste. I was hoping I would be surprised and really enjoy it. I was a bit disappointed. Let me go ahead and say that I would not call this a bad book. I just could not recommend this book based on my tastes and preferences. I enjoyed the author's writing style and the book's setting. I have always wanted to go to Italy so I had that in common with the main character. I loved seeing a bit of this country through the author's perspective. However, this book has some deeper meanings and undertones in it and I'm just not a "deep" kind of person when it comes to fiction books. In fact, the book itself references those that are "black and white" people and those that are "gray" people seeing all the shades between black and white. I'm a black and white kinda person. I think that is the reason this just did not appeal to me. A major theme of the book is reality versus fantasy and how much of each to believe or allow yourself to believe. I just don't see eye to eye with the author here and skimmed most of these parts while rolling my eyes a bit. There were a few twists I was not expecting towards the end but overall it was kinda slow. There were bits of the dead relative's story interwoven as if we had inserts of a journal at the beginning of each chapter. I would have liked a bit more of that information throughout. Another book that I thought this might be like in that respect is Chateau of Echos by Siri Mitchell. I liked the back and forth of present day to past in that book and thought it might be the same here but it was not. The focus was much more on present day and not on the relative's story. I did not like the handling and resolution of the tumultuous father/daughter relationship and really did not care for a scenario with the contact's (Sophia's) father at the end of the book. It was deceptive and displayed a lack of integrity in my opinion. I received this book for free through the Blogging for Books program of WaterBrook Multnomah publishers in exchange for my review.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah Ladd

Loved the cover on this book! I must admit that I'm a total cover shopper. If the cover doesn't catch me, I'm not picking it up unless I know the author or was looking for that specific book but I digress. This book was just okay. I was hoping for more but I would still give the series a shot. This is the first in a series entitled "Whispers on the Moor". The book involves the heiress to a fortune who must marry to inherit, a close friend who dies and leaves her child to this woman's care, and the husband/father who returns from sea many months later. Can you guess where this is going? Maybe, but it is not your typical setup. A fiance, snarky relatives, and a kidnapping throw some kinks in the way. All in all, it was still a good read although a bit predictable and a tad unbelievable but his is fiction. However, I did like the fact that the kidnapping did not occupy the majority of the book. From the synopsis, it sounds like the book will spend the majority of the time on that event and the book is actually halfway through at least when the kidnapping occurs. The characters had plenty of time for development and the story line is clearly mapped out. I received this book for free from Booksneeze for this review.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The balance of motherhood and a good book

So, the first year with the kiddo has been fabulous! I could never have imagined how wonderful being a parent would be. I also never could have imagined that my love of books would not just suffer because of it but come to a screeching halt. Ha! However, I would not take one second away from my son to give to my books. I have missed them though. Life is now getting into a regular rhythm and one that involves some book reading time again. I was so ashamed when I logged into my book review accounts to see that it had been a looooong time since I had reviewed a book. Well, I'm back in the game now. I have taken my son's nap time today (a coveted time to do whatever is most pressing for the day be it laundry, cleaning, work, reading time, etc.) to update my book catalog on Goodreads. I've got plenty of books that have back-logged on my shelves for the last few months. I may not have time to read them but I can sure keep buying them. You can never have too many books! Look for a review coming your way soon!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck

Kristin Billerbeck is not a new author for me. I have read many of her previous books. They are usually fun, light, entertaining reads and this one follows suit. The premise of a formally trained "nose" losing her sense of smell is new and interesting. The book is an easy read and keeps your interest throughout with a few twists and turns you may not expect. My one complaint about this book is the pace of the romantic relationship that develops. In my opinion, it moves too quickly to be realistic but hey, this is a fiction book after all so I can overlook it. This book won't be on my top ten list or anything but its good for a weekend or beach read. I received this book for free from Booksneeze for this review.