Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“Breath of Hope” by Lauraine Snelling ~ Book Review

A Breath of Hope (Under Northern Skies #2)

 

“Breath of Hope” by Lauraine Snelling

Book 2 in the Under Northern Skies series

Review copy through publisher

My rating: 3.5/4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Nilda Carlson has been trying to save enough money to go to America for months, so when a letter arrives, with an offer to pay her passage, she jumps at the chance. Her younger brother Ivar accompanies her, and they are thrilled to join older brother Rune and his family in the northern forests of Minnesota.

But America is not everything Nilda imagined. A terrifying experience in a lumber camp shakes Nilda’s confidence and trust in men, but a job helping a young widow raise her children and run her farm gives her a chance to build her own life. When she meets Fritz, the children’s schoolteacher, she is initially unimpressed and uninterested. His kindness and passion for learning begin to win her over, but how can she sacrifice her dreams for the future for a man she’s still not sure of?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

Book Two in the “Under Northern Skies” series, “A Breath of Hope” continues Signe and Rune’s story in America as well as Rune’s siblings, Nilda and Ivar, joining them from Norway.
I was expecting this book to be more of Nilda’s story than anyone else’ but I was still quite pelased to find that we got to see more from Signe and Rune, and experience the story through their POV’s too.
What I like about this series is that it portrays life as it was in that time period, and the trials and experiences they went through with a realistic view.
And the names are always fantastic – I love the Norwegian background. It was fun that in this one, we get to see a little more of Norway in the beginning as Nilda and Ivar are saving to make their trip to America.
This book was a little…lacking in a main plot line. It’s more of a continuation of every-day life from the first book, with not much climax. So, it could be a bit of a slow read, but I still enjoyed it. The characters were well-built up just like the first one, and the setting/descriptions were strong.
There were a couple of “inconsistencies” where they would skip over something just mentioned, or didn’t revisit a “plot line” I thought they would. There was also a fair build up to something happening, but when it was revealed at the very end it wasn’t very monumental, if that makes sense.
But all in all, I still enjoyed reading it, and am curious to see what the next book will hold. I don’t feel like we really got to hear much of Nilda’s story, so I would like to see hers especially continue. :)
 
*This doesn’t really pertain to the review or the book’s contents at all, but I must admit I was a little bummed when the review copy came and it was hardcopy, because the first was paperback, and I want a series to match. Am I the only one? XD
Quote:
“Never is a long time. Somehow we will find a way.”
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
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Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Orphan’s Wish” by Melanie Dickerson ~ Book Review

 

 

 

“The Orphan’s Wish” by Melanie Dickerson

Book #8 in the Hagenheim Series of Fairy-tale retellings

Review copy from the publishers through BookLook Bloggers.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break.

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn’t enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he’s an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save her from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?

An enchanting new version of the well-known tale, The Orphan’s Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what “family” really means.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I think this cover has to be one my favourites of Melanie Dickerson’s. :) The colors are very attractive and it’s just a very lovely cover. ^.^
The story itself is a light, sweet read. While normally I don’t so much mind or notice when reading YA if it is below my age level, I admit that I found this one to be a bit simple for me. This isn’t really a bad thing, it just wasn’t as engaging as I was hoping. There were a lot of predictable and common troupes that I found a little over-done, but I think that partially had to do with the mood I was in while reading.
The characters themselves were pretty well built-up. I personally couldn’t really connect, and sometimes felt that Aladdin had a bit of a ‘poor me’ spirit about him, when I wanted to see more of an overcomer sort of character.
Besides the fact that the main character is named Aladdin and he has a little friend named Abu, and he was a street rat, there weren’t a whole lot of other related facts to it being an Aladdin retelling. Which was okay, just something I thought I would state. I really didn’t mind that it wasn’t much related to the original. And I must say, I do really like and appreciate that the author writes fairy-tale retellings without the magic.
The faith strand was pretty good – it was present, but light. I wanted a bit more emphases to be made that God is the One we go to to be fulfilled instead of turning towards people, but that wasn’t really shown all that much.
It was a clean book, which is always appreciated. There were a couple kisses in the end, but nothing too strong. I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t my favourite of this author. And as always, that doesn’t mean others won’t adore it, because I do think that it could be a favourite for someone else!   I think this would be a very good read for the ages that it is geared towards.  :)
Quotes:
“Aladdin pointed to the place where its slender trunk was shattered but still holding together. ‘Strange that it can be so broken but still so alive.’ Just like him.”
“But that’s not my job, is it, God? You’re the only One who can heal a soul wound.”

 

Posted in Book reviews

“Enchanting Nicholette” by Dawn Crandall ~ Review

Hullo! Yesterday was the release day of the “Timeless Love” collection, of which “Enchanting Nicholette is apart!  Did you pre-ordered Timeless Love? If so, you now have the pre-Whitaker House edition of Enchanting Nicholette in your hands to read and enjoy which is quite fun. :) And if you don’t, there’s still time to order your copy to your kindle right now! It’s only 99cents and all royalties go to the Livestrong Foundation.
https://www.amazon.com/Timeless-Love-Romantic-Stories-th…/…/

 

And now I shall share my review of the dear story, “Enchanting Nicholette”…

 

 

“Enchanting Nicholette” by Dawn Crandall

A novella apart of The Everstone Chronicles

 

Review ecopy from the author

My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars

 

 

About the book:

In this captivating novella by Dawn Crandall, Nicholette Everstone is already a widow at the age of twenty-two: her husband was murdered on their wedding day. She has just returned to Boston after two years of mourning in Europe. Although her husband was loving, the marriage was an arranged one, and Nicholette would like to wed again–this time for love…and to someone safe

As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette meets someone she can’t help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of “what if” at bay?

 

My Thoughts:

A sweet, enchanting (see what I did there? ;)) novella! Admittedly it took be a tiny bit to really get into the story, but I think that is mostly because I wasn’t entirely familiar with the characters; I’ve only read one book of Dawn Crandall’s (which I loved!), and that was quite a while ago. However, once I kept reading, it all worked itself out and it can be read as a stand alone since it is Nichollete’s story.
And Cal’s, of course. I loved Cal so much. He made such an excellent hero, and I fell in love with him immediately. I very much liked Nicholette but I didn’t really bond with her as much; not quite sure why. I certainly didn’t dislike her – that is far from it. She was a good character, and I felt for it, just didn’t deeply connect. I loved their relationship, though, and how it was all accomplished in a short amount of time. Of course,  I would’ve loved a full-size novel from this story, but I just love full-sized novels. XD “Enchanting Nicholette” was written very well and didn’t feel like it was lacking anything at all.
The kissing scenes got very heated though, which did make me a little uncomfortable, especially when they weren’t married… I don’t mind reading about a kiss here or there in fiction, because frankly there are few books that don’t contain kissing, but these scenes were a bit much in my  opinion.
But I know that is a personal-preference thing.
Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this novella and look forward to reading more of her books!!
*You can find this novella in the Timeless Love Collection for a short while longer, otherwise EN will be available on its own in both ebook and paperback this October. :)
I received a complimentary ecopy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Posted in Book reviews, Books

“Among the Poppies” by J’nell Ciesielski ~ Book Review

Among the Poppies by [Ciesielski, J'nell]

Among the Poppies by J’nell Ciesielski 

WWI Fiction

I received a complimentary ecopy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Can their love survive? Or will it become another casualty of war?

The ideal lady wears lace, speaks quietly, and never—under any circumstances—fixes an automobile. But Gwyn Ruthers has never cared two snaps about being the ideal lady. With the war to end all wars exploding across the English Channel, she leaves behind her restrictive life as a chauffer’s daughter to serve in an all-female ambulance unit in France. She’s not about to let her social status or gender prevent her from serving her country. Not even a handsome captain can distract her from her mission. Most of the time.

Captain William Crawford wouldn’t wish the ravages of war on any man, much less the captivating woman who insists on driving into battle instead of staying safely at home. He can’t deny that the troops need more medical help, but not when it puts innocent women in danger. How can he lead his men against the Jerries while worrying about Gwyn’s safety?

Bound together by circumstances, Gwyn and William can’t stop the love growing between them. Can their relationship survive, or will it become another casualty of war?

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This was quite the beautiful story, and a great debut novel. Not to mention that the cover itself is stunning, too. :) At times, it felt very Downton-Abbey/Crimson-Fields-esque, which was rather fun, since I enjoy both of those BBC shows.
The writing style was extremely well done. It flowed brilliantly, and was truly captivating.
The characters were very likeable as well. I couldn’t help picturing Sybil from Downton Abbey for Gwyn. She was a very independent young woman with a mind of her own. Of course, she wasn’t completely like Sybil – Gwyn grew up as the chauffer’s daughter, learning to work on cars which was her passion. She could be a little too strong-headed at times, too, thinking it was bad to be a woman. And honestly, that view does kind of wear on me. I find it is slipped in constantly, no matter the time period of the book, that “woman belong in the kitchen” is akin to a swear-word, and women’s rights, etc. I’m a woman, I’m not a fan of cooking myself. However, I do help out in the kitchen because I do believe that a woman’s place is to *serve*; where ever, however, including the kitchen. It’s not a bad thing. I don’t believe that woman are lesser or should be treated with less respect, or anything of the sort. I just wish that feminism wouldn’t be so pushed in every book I read.But anyway! Rant over, yes? Back to the actual review…
So I enjoyed the book, there were just a couple of things like this that I didn’t care for as much.
Of course I loved the two main characters. But I need to mention Roland. Side-character, yes, but oh my word. He was so fantastic. ^.^ His little quips always made me laugh, and his attitude was just the best. <3 <3
I liked Gwyn’s best friend, Cecelia, but sometimes I admit she could be a bit annoying. Still, their friendship was admirable.
I will also sort of ‘warn’ that there were several passionate kisses in this book. I think they went a little far at times, but I know that everybody’s preference regarding kissing in books is different.
The plot-line was great. It was very drawing, and I didn’t want to leave its pages. The action was well-played out, and WWI depicted realistically. I cannot imagine the horrors, really. All of it would have been so terrible.
But these characters handled it admirably, and it was fascinating to see the battle side of things of WWI.

 

SPOILER!! Please don’t read if you want the book to be a surprise as this gives away a plot-line!!

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.(Highlight words below to see, at your own risk. ;))
 But Roland! I was so, so, so upset. Like, why?? He deserved his own happily ever after. I think I can say he was my favourite character, and therefore…yeah, I wasn’t happy with his ending. Made me terribly sad and upset.
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END OF SPOILER

 

 

 

Among the Poppies 1

Among the Poppies 2

Among the Poppies3

Posted in Book reviews

“Quest for Leviathan” by Amanda Tero ~ Book Review

Release 01.jpg

“Quest for Leviathan” by Amanda Tero

Short story

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

My review:

 

This was a great short story. It was unique, and definitely captivating, even though the pages were few. And the illustrations were splendid! I love the depth they added. Very well done. In ways, the short story gave off a slightly How to Train Your Dragon (book not movie) feel, but that could very well just be me. ;)
It had a Christian message of surrender which was very good.
My only “complaint”, if you can call it that, is that it was too short. I would’ve loved to read even a novella length of this story. :)

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the author I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

 

Amanda bio pic.jpgAbout the Author

Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Connect with Amanda

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com

Website: http://amandatero.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amandaterobooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandateroauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amandaruthtero/

Blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmandaTero

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/amandatero

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review, Uncategorized

“Jesus Calling: 50 Devotions for Comfort” – Sarah Young ~ Review

Jesus Calling: 50 Devotions for Comfort

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

My thoughts:

 

I looooove the Jesus Calling devotionals. I may have more than two…or more than three…Okay, so I have four different ones. And I love them all. I was very excited to see this one come available for review, because who doesn’t need comfort from Jesus?
I love how these devotionals are written, as Jesus speaking to us. It feels very personal, and I definitely believe that the Lord uses them. There have been so many times where I am feeling low or discouraged, etc. and open to a devotional page and it’s exactly what I needed to hear.
In this one, they are the devos selected from the bigger one, Jesus Calling, so I have read them before, but many seem like reading them new, and they do share immense comfort. And the artwork! Oh my. I wasn’t expecting that, but each devotional page has a piece of art on the other side with a verse scripted across it, and then also some pages in between devotionals with Bible verses elegantly scripted across a lovely scene. It really is beautiful, and so peaceful and calming.
So yes, I definitely recommend this devotional, as well as the other Jesus Calling devotionals!

 

Posted in Book reviews, Revell Reads

“The Theory of Happily Ever After” by Kristin Billerbeck ~ Review

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“The Theory of Happily Ever After” by Kristin Billerbeck

Review copy from publishers// I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious science, as serious as Maggie takes herself. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies–for instance, why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge.

Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.

Filled with memorable characters, snappy dialogue, and touching romance, Kristin Billerbeck’s The Theory of Happily Ever After shows that the search for happiness may be futile–because sometimes happiness is already out there searching for you.

 

My Thoughts:

 

I love the simplicity and coloring of the cover! It’s cute, and gives you a glimpse at the story’s theme too. 
And the story was a fun one. It was a perfect light read that I needed – and humorous! I laughed out loud a couple of times. :D 
Dr. Maggie Maguire is a happiness-doctor, studying and sharing the science of happiness. But to tell you the truth, she is pretty miserable. Disaster seems to surround her at every turn and the reader definitely does feel sorry for her. And yet there were definitely times where I wanted to yell at her and tell her what to do! But there were also reasons behind what she did, which made her actions – good and bad – more understandable. Even if they were sometimes frustrating. ;)
I felt for her in her quest for a Happily Ever After. Most girls do dream of a fairy-tale romance. Also relatable: her watching so many romances and eating gelato. XD
Her friends meant the best for her in their actions. I liked Kathleen and her way of speaking it like it was. I liked Haley at first. *SPOILER* but as the story went on, oh how I wanted to slap her around a bit. I’m sorry, but I did. She was a tantruming child who didn’t get her way, and she was accusing Maggie of being a bad friend when really, she was being the bad friend. Yeah, she bugged me to say the least. ^.^ *END OF SPOILER*
I liked Sam. I liked how he was drawn to Maggie at once, even if he could be rude. He was still quite hero-ish through the whole thing.
Though I know it’s considered normal in the “real world”, to me it was odd how there were many intimate moments yet so much confusion and running apart/away afterwards…and I felt bad for Maggie and her view, I guess you would call it, on kissing. That someone needs to be kissed first to know someone’s true commitment. And again, I know that is kind of normal – supposedly kisses mean nothing, but in my opinion, they are significant and shouldn’t be thrown around willy-nilly.
That is not to say this was not a clean book though – the kisses were not ridiculous or super detailed at all, and didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, which I appreciated.
Another thing I appreciated in this book was how she came to the realization that she couldn’t be everything to everyone. Amen. It’s so easy to slip into the people-pleasing role that we lose sight of what really matters. That being said, there could have been more focus on us needing to please God first and foremost. There were mentions of God sprinkled throughout the book, and Bible verses mentioned, however, I wouldn’t really say it was a deeply Christian book. It was Christian in its essence, but not really in its portrayal. The characters did not bear the fruits of being a Christian, and while no one is perfect (obviously!), there wasn’t even much shown for trying. I guess, to me, the whole idea of happiness being a science we can achieve is a bit…dare I say, silly. Because true happiness – true joy – comes from Jesus Christ. Every other way of happiness is fleeting and not as fulfilling.
For it being a ‘light read’ I do realize I analyzed it a bit – definitely something Maggie and I have in common! ;)
I would like to restate that I did definitely enjoy this book. It was a fun read, and I would even read it again. I just can’t shut my brain off totally when it comes to reviewing. :D
Quotes:
“That’s why, Dr. Maguire, you need to count your blessings. Sometimes, getting your heart broken is the best thing that can happen to you.”
“That’s the thing about resilience. You have to know pain to feel the incredible high of coming back from the darkness.”