Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter - Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen has crafted yet another captivating novel with Bethany House.  I own every one of her books and will remain an enthusiastic fan of Klassen.  Her latest, The Tutor's Daughter, moves quietly but is fascinating and lives up to the Klassen standard.  I found myself seeing elements of both Pride and Prejudice as well as Jane Eyre.  You'll see for yourself what I mean when you read the book.
Emma Smallwood, whose father has been asked to tutor two young men privately in their home relocates with her father to the student's estate in Cornwall.  She has harbored feelings for Phillip, the students' older brother for several years, but still resents the eldest of the Weston brothers, Henry, for his malicious pranks many years ago.
In The Tutor's Daughter, Julie uses her trademark excellent research to bring the setting and characters to life.  She also weaves in a considerable amount of psychology, which is reflected in the personalities and tendencies of the main characters.  I also appreciated her research on autism and how it was viewed in the seventeenth century.
My only critique is that I wish she had brought out more attraction between the two main characters earlier in the novel.  However, the ending was phenomenal.  I highly recommend this novel.  You can find it online or at your local book retailer.
This book was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow is the second book in the Avenue of Dreams series by Olivia Newport.  The first book, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, was exceptional and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The author introduced Charlotte Farrow towards the end of the novel, and I was hoping the next book would center around her.  
Charlotte's circumstances are difficult.  She has employment in one of the mansions on Prairie Avenue in Chicago, but she is concealing her newborn son from her employers.  Lucy Banning discovers Charlotte's secret and agrees to help her find someone to watch her child during the week.  Charlotte visits her son on her day off.  
Trouble begins when the child's caretaker receives a letter indicating that she must depart immediately for a family emergency.  She leaves the child with Charlotte inside the Banning courtyard.  The help assumes a child has been abandoned in their yard and Charlotte must make a decision.  Should she confess that this is her child or would it be better to allow the Banning family to take care of the child in their home until Lucy returns from her honeymoon?  Unfortunately, Lucy isn't due back for several months.  When Flora Banning decides the baby is best adopted by one of her relatives and at the same time a houseguest wants to adopt the child, Charlotte doesn't know what to do.
My impression of this book is not as favorable as my impression of the first in this series.  The book is labeled a historical romance, but as far as I could tell there was no romance in the novel until the very end.  the plot is a winner, but I would have preferred if Leo had stepped into the protagonist's role and saved the day.  Archie seemed to me to be a lazy and discontent person who would not accept that Charlotte was not interested in him romantically.  I found all of this very unattractive and could not bring myself to hope for the ending that is written.  The main character, Charlotte, is a beautiful girl age twenty-one who loves her son dearly but is too cowardly to step up as his mother.  She also seems disinterested in Archie from the beginning, and I never saw a heart change.  The entire novel I was at odds with the characters.  
All that said, I will continue to read Olivia Newport's novels, because she is such a talented author.  The series has a lot of potential, and I am looking forward to seeing Leo's appearance soon perhaps.  
This book was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Shark 10-amp Navigator Lift Away Pro Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner

I am a vacuum snob.  It's not uncommon for me to return a vacuum to the store I bought it from within sixty days.  Most vacuums start strong; they have excellent suction and get your carpet very clean for the first few uses.  Then, sadly, they begin to lose suction, get clogged, or need bags replaced every week.  I detest the smell of smoking rubber, which is common if the belt comes off its track.  If they are bagless, then the capacity is usually remarkably small and requires dumping after every use or so.
This vacuum is the Shark 10-amp Navigator Lift Away Pro Bagless Upright.  I've had it for over ninety days now, and I think I'm in love.  The suction has remained excellent.  The vacuum is bagless, but they didn't skimp on the dust container.  It's huge.  You'll get many uses before you need to clean it out.  And when you do, don't panic.  It's easy peezi.  The hose is made from durable steel and rubber tubing.  You can disconnect the hose to use at two different points, depending on what you want to use it for.  However, I think the most remarkable facet of the vacuum is the fact that is transforms into a canister vacuum with just one click.  This makes it easy for you to carry around your house cleaning corners, drapes, or anything else with the hose.
Since most vacuums come with an abundance of tools, I didn't take a second look at what was bundled with my new vacuum.  However, once I got around to it I was shocked!  They really outdid themselves.  Besides the basics, they included a carpeted-stair cleaner, which can also be used for upholstery and a variety of other tasks.  It actually has a brush inside.  The real surprise was the wood floor/hard surface cleaner.  You can remove the vacuum head you typically use for carpeted areas and replace it with this, which completely changes the function of the entire unit.
The only thing I was wary of when I initially saw the vacuum was the small width.  We have a lot of carpet, and I was worried this might create more work for me.  However, it has not.  The vacuum squeezes into tight places easily, moves quickly, and I believe (as a result of the smaller width) the suction is substantially higher than what you get with another competitor.
I've never been more impressed.  Bottom line, if you need a vacuum this is an excellent choice.  And, surprisingly, the cost won't break the bank.  It was roughly a third the cost of a comparative Dyson model.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Change of Fortune - Jen Turano

As far as I can tell, this is Jen Turano's first novel.  Thankfully, it's only the first of four books in the "Ladies of Distinction" series.  I can't wait until the next one comes out!
The main character, Eliza Sumner, is visiting America from England on a quest to bring the man that stole from her family to justice.  She takes on a new identity as a nanny for a wealthy family and in the process meets Mr. Hamilton Beckett, one of the most eligible bachelors of the season.  Since they find each other in the most unusual of circumstances they decide to work together.  The author doesn't skimp on attraction, and I appreciated that touch very much.
The story ramps up and doesn't quit until the very end.  My only wish is that the other novels had already been released!  You will love this new author.  In my opinion, Bethany House is very lucky to have picked up someone with such a creative mind and a flair for storytelling.  I didn't put the book down until it was finished!  This is one to run out and buy.  It's worth it.
This was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.