Friday, August 24, 2012

Over the Edge - Mary Connealy

"Over the Edge" is the third book in "The Kincaid Brides" series by Mary Connealy.  The plot was ever changing, fun, and less serious than most novels published by Bethany House.  This lighter side is new for me, but I enjoyed it.
The plot centers around Callie and Seth.  She comes from Texas with her little boy to find the husband that abandoned her after the end of the Civil War.  She finds him, and the novel is about their journey as they learn how to live and work together again.
The book starts with a bang as Callie almost single-handedly defends a stagecoach from ruffians.  The author paints her character as being tough, skilled, and a little on the mannish side.  In comparison to Callie's talents, her husband, Seth, seemed too soft.  However, the author took time growing the characters into the people she saw them as in the end.  For example, near the beginning I was frustrated and slightly put off by her lack of empathy for others.  Toward the end, she exhibits selflessness as she works to save someone undeserving of favor.  I appreciated the contrast the author took time to develop while staying inside the storyline.
My only criticism is of the protagonist, Seth.  He is a little on the flaky side, and it was hard for me to really respect his character as a man.  It was seemed to me that the author was painting a picture of a man who has severe post traumatic stress disorder.  After I finished the book, I Googled PTSD to see how the symptoms compared with the author's description.  The symptoms were all there.  Mary did a fantastic job of working in all the details without sending the reader into a depression of their own.
All in all, this was a pleasant read and if light-hearted cowboy romance is your thing, this might just fit the bill perfectly.
Below, I have a book trailer of Mona Hodgson's newest novel, soon to be released.  Enjoy a previous of "Twice a Bride"!

This book was a complimentary copy given to me by the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Widow of Saunders Creek - Tracy Bateman

Tracy Bateman lives near Springfield, MO, which is only forty miles from my home, Branson, MO.  So, I was particularly excited to read her newest novel, and was additionally psyched to see that it was actually set in small town, MO just outside of Springfield.  I immediately recognized some of the landmarks and she had me guessing which small town was the inspiration for this book. 
Unfortunately, it violated some of my core Christian beliefs.  Primarily, I am referring to dabbling in witchcraft and magic.  The plot is about the spiritual war for a young woman's soul as she struggles to work through the death of her husband.  However, the overt use of spirits, demons, ghosts and the like was too informative.  The Bible speaks clearly and unwaveringly that we are not to willingly introduce thoughts or actions involving witchcraft into our lives.  I believe this means making the choice not to read material that introduces a deluge of facts and data about Wiccan practices and folk magic.  Included in the text were references to covens and even a seance of sorts.  The novel did not allude to spirits and magic, it inundated the book.  In many places, I felt like I was getting an education on local magic practices. 
In order to give the author the benefit of the doubt, I must believe that her goal is to demonstrate that our God -- the one and only God of the universe -- is higher than any other.  The book is about the journey of a young woman as she questions which path to take.  She has two choices.  One is to embrace the spirit (demon) of her deceased husband and invite his presence into her life.  The other is to recognize the demon as evil and, in the name of Jesus, make it leave. 
I am not discounting the data presented in the book, nor am I criticizing the writing style.  In fact, the writing was enjoyable and the romance was perfect.  Lately I have read several books were the two main characters are drawn together, but it isn't particularly evident until the last chapter.  Tracy Bateman creates an attraction and keeps it growing the whole way through.  On those notes, the book was wonderfully written.  However, I firmly believe that the topic of witchcraft should not have been brought up as subject matter to dwell on, and certainly not in the recreational reading (fiction) arena.  Bringing these topics up open doors in the mind and heart that should remain closed.  I know that my God can and will conquer everything thrown into my path by Satan, but I remain concerned for many who read this and leave more fearful spiritually than ever before.
Again, I want to reinforce that the author most likely intended to encourage with this novel.  Personally, I left with far more information about Wiccan practices that I had every hoped to accumulate in a lifetime.
This book was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Inescapable - Nancy Mehl

Ever since the beginning of this blog I have posted a copy of the cover of the book being reviewed.  This time, Bethany House has provided me with a book "trailer."  It's like a movie trailer, but for... you get it.  Very cool!  Now, for the review...
I am a first time ever Nancy Mehl reader!  After finishing "Inescapable" I was so eager to find out if there were more Mehl books out there that I Googled it.  In fact, Nancy has authored thirteen books total.  Previously published by Barbour, Thorndike, and Greenbriar Book Company Nancy Mehl's new Road to Kingdom series has been picked up by Bethany House.  If "Inescapable" is any indication, Bethany House made a very good call.  I can't wait to see what Book 2, "Unbreakable" is about!
Here, the main character, Lizzie Engel, has been gone from her Mennonite town for five years with good reason.  She experienced violence and abuse at home and has no meaningful relationship with her parents.  After becoming pregnant and treated with contempt by the townspeople, she left for a chance at life in the city.  Lizzie planned never to come back, but when she is accused of theft and embezzlement at her workplace in Kansas City she needs a place to retreat.  In addition, she's being followed and threatened.  Lizzie can't afford to take chances with her daughter's safety, so she  returns home to her Mennonite roots. Unfortunately, this doesn't fix anything, and the threats get even worse.  Suddenly, two men enter her life as potential suitors and complicate everything for Lizzie.
The entire book had me from page one, and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.  I would compare this novel with something from Mindy Starns Clark.  If you enjoy mystery with romance, this is a fantastic place to start.  I wish the second book, "Unbreakable" was already out, but alas -- it will be released February 1, 2013.  This one will definitely be on my radar!
The book was a free gift from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Scent of Rain - Kristin Billerbeck

To date, I have read eleven of Kristin Billerbeck's novels.  I am, and always will be, a fan.  She is one of the very few Christian writers that focus on the chick-lit genre, so I am eager to see her stay "in the business" so that we can look forward to more chick-lit!
"The Scent of Rain" is about Daphne Sweeten, a professional nose who has been trained in Paris and comes back to the United States to get married.  As bad luck would have it, her groom fails to show up.  In the meantime, she has already accepted a job at a household goods supplier to develop the scents of the products they sell.  After giving up her dream job in Paris for marriage in the States and experiencing a failed wedding she then loses her most valuable asset - her sense of smell.
The plot gets slightly better as we learn more about her ex-fiancee, but it's too little to draw me in.  I cruise through the short novel before I realize it.  Since I was reading on a Kindle, it's difficult to tell how "thick" the book is initially.  I started and finished it in one day.
The romance was barely there.  All we felt was a draw between the characters until the very last chapter.  It's so safe, I might recommend it to a pre-teen.
FYI, Givauden and Gibralter were too closely named (in my opinion) and throughout the book, I had to back up several times to make sure I was reading it correctly.  Given that Daphne is a professional nose, I thought the last name "Sweeten" was a bit too much.
This review is rather harsh, but I do remain a fan of Kristin Billerbeck's.  I heartily recommend the "Trophy Wives Club" series.  Even after five years, I still remember the characters and their journey from Book #1!  Other favorites are "Split Ends," and the "Spa Girls" series.
This book was a free gift from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Win a $500 Weekend Giveaway Package & RSVP for 8/23 Facebook Party!

Celebrate with Colleen by entering to win a $500 gift certificate to!

One grand prize winner will receive:
• A $500 gift certificate to
• A copy of Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

Enter today by clicking here. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "Tidewater Inn" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/23. Colleen will chat with guests, share a sneak peek of her next book, host a trivia contest, and more. She’ll also be giving away gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of Tidewater Inn and join Colleen on the evening of the August 22nd for a chance to connect with Colleen and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)
Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!