Posted in Books, Litfuse, Uncategorized

Litfuse Book Review: “Blue Ribbon Trail Ride” by Miralee Ferrell

“Blue Ribbon Trail Ride” By Miralee Ferrell

Book four in Horses and Friends

Review source: Litfuse

My rating 3 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Thirteen-year old Kate and her friends came up with the perfect way to raise money for her autistic younger brother and others to attend summer camp—a horse scavenger hunt! As local businesses donate money and prizes, Kate keeps the entry fees in her mom’s antique jewelry box.

But when the box and the money disappear, Kate and her friends must unravel the clues, hold on to hope, and solve the mystery along the Blue Ribbon Trail Ride.

 

My Thoughts:

I read through this series with my younger sister, reading each one in order. While these books were entertaining, clean, and did keep my sister interested, there were some things that I am very concerned about which I will discuss below.
Each book had similar plot-lines, but I think that for their age group and for horse-loving readers, they are good. I’m afraid I am not an extreme horse-lover (or in that age group of 12-15), but for those who are, these are interesting reads. My favourite character would have to be Tori. She was very sweet, kind, and a great role-model.
The things I wish were different were that there could’ve been a stronger thread of faith and influence of godly character. The character of Kate was written well, I had just hoped the parents would’ve exhibited more in the way of leading their children in godly ways and turning things back to God and prayer, etc. I also was concerned with how often Kate did things she knew she wasn’t supposed to and going behind her parent’s backs or eavesdropping, etc. and then it was just skimmed over like it wasn’t that big of a deal. As it happened, we had to stop and discuss why Kate’s behaviour wasn’t okay, and what she should have done to honour God and her parents. My concern is that young girls will read this and not have an older sibling or parent to stop and discuss the right and wrongs of the book and will think that it’s normal and even okay to act as Kate did. I understand that they want to write a realistic character, but then there needs to be consequences for bad actions and corrections so that the readers will learn how to handle situations with a godly attitude.
This book was aimed more for public-schooled children of that age, I believe, which isn’t bad. My younger sister is the same age as the main character, but there were some vast differences and also we’re a homschooling family so there is that difference where we couldn’t relate fully to the main character.
I did appreciate that these books had a variety of people, like having an autistic character, a homeschooled character, a Hispanic character, a freckled character, and popular character, etc.
There were just quite a few issues that weren’t handled how I had hoped and things that were brought up and then ignored instead of being dealt with in a good way. And for those reasons I would strongly suggest that the book be read with an adult so that morals can be discussed and the reader can learn from Kate’s often selfish and disrespectful behaviour.
As I said, I would strongly advise this book not be read alone by younger readers.
I received complimentary copies of all four books from the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.
Posted in Bethany House, Blogging For Books, Book reviews, BookCrash, Booklook Review, Books, Chuck Black, Heather Day Gilbert, Litfuse, NetGalley Book Review, reading, Revell Reads, Reviews, Tessa Afshar, Tyndale House, update

Another year past/2015

Hello! Today is the last day of 2015. I hope it was a good year for all of you! And I hope 2016 brings lots of blessings and lessons from our Lord too. :)

I am going to do my yearly post of books I read over the past year…so, here we go! I’m showing them from the latest I read to the first I read back in January of 2015. Each image should bring you to their GoodReads page and my review if applicable. :)

 

The Daughter of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides, #2) 
 
 
 
 
 
Meant to be Mine (Porter Family, #2) A Dream Not Imagined: A Cinderella StoryThe Art of Losing YourselfFive Glass SlippersThe Choosing (Seer, #1)
The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, #1) The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (Thornbeck, #1)Esther: The Story of a Woman Who Saved a NationSide by SideTrial by Twelve (A Murder in the Mountains, #2)
Beauty (Folktales, #1) The Salt CovenantsJoseph of Arimathea: A Tale of the ResurrectionFinding MeRise of the Fallen (Wars of the Realm, #2)
For the Joy Set Before Us: Insights into the Missionary Journey Brothers and BetrayalLove by the Letter (Unexpected Brides, #0.5)The Tomb: A Novel of Martha (The Living Water, #3)Remember the Lilies
Stay in the Castle Adventures and AdversitiesHow to Catch a Prince (Royal Wedding, #3)An Uncertain Choice (An Uncertain Choice, #1)Dauntless (Valiant Hearts, #1)
The Vow (An Uncertain Choice, #0.5) The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks (The Regency Adventures of Jemima Sudbury, #1) The Crimson Cord: Rahab's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land, #1) Paper Hearts Journey to the Well
Both of Me Waltz into the Waves: A Cinderella StoryTiger LilyDeliver Me from Evil (Freedom #1)  Beyond All Dreams
 Cloak of the Light (Wars of the Realm, #1)
Most of them were very good, and some were so-so, and other’s weren’t a favourite. But ultimately, I had a very good reading year! Top ten favourites? Hard choice! But here are SOME, in no order:
“Resistance” and “Half-Blood” by Jaye L. Knight
“Not Abandoned” by MacKenzie Morganthal
“Brothers-in-Arms” by Jack Lewis Baillot (not published yet)
“The Fragrance of Geraniums” and “All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri
“The Tomb” by Stephanie Landsem
“The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest” and “Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson
“Better than Peanut Butter Ice Cream” by Kristen Krueger
“Through Waters Deep” by Sarah Sundin
“Rise of the Fallen” by Chuck Black
“Dauntless” and “Chivalrous” by Dina L. Sleiman
Okay, so I realise I cheated a little and did more than ten, but there are only ten lines, so… :D
Some Honourable Mentions:
Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden
Waltz into the Waves by Sarah Holman
A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu
The Tethered World by Heather FitzGerald
Side by Side by Jana Kelley
For the Joy Set Before Us by Erica Fye
Annnnnd there were more I enjoyed. :) But I will end here. What books were your favourites of the year? Could you pick just a few? :D
Here’s to more reading in 2016!
Posted in 1940's, Book reviews, Fiction Guild, Litfuse

FictionGuild/Litfuse Book review: “The Wedding Chapel” by Rachel Hauck

“The Wedding Chapel” by Rachel Hauck
Review copy source: Litfuse and Fiction Guild
My rating: 4 out 5 Stars
About the Book:

A lonely wedding chapel built as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation.

For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty. Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Collette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago. The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss.

Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, to make a new life for herself in New York. She had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams. Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement—then to second guesses. Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her.

Taking a photography assignment in Heart’s Bend, Taylor is thrown back into a past of family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time. When Taylor and Coach’s journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth the wait.

My Thoughts:
This was certainly a cute read. I really enjoyed it. :) Normally I don’t pick up too many contemporary books, but having read one of Rachel Hauck’s other books and enjoying it, I wasn’t hesitant to try another, and I’m glad I did! This one had pieces of the story that were set in the late 40’s/early 50’s, and it was all so delightfully depicted.
The only thing I didn’t care for and would warn others about is the amount of ‘intimate’ moments there were. I don’t think they were necessary at all, at least in any detail.
The faith strand was very powerful at the end, and had me a tiny bit water-eyed I admit. :) Though I didn’t “agree” that once you’ve heard God’s heart, it stops and becomes solely part of walking by faith. Yes, we are definitely to walk by faith (amen to that), but we can also hear the heart of God no matter what.
The characters were very real – their flaws and all. I enjoyed the journeys each went on within themselves. Not sure I could pick a favourite…Jimmy and Collette in their teen years especially, and I really enjoyed Taylor’s character. And Jack. At the first introduction of him, I wasn’t sure, but as we got to read from his point of view, my heart ached for him.
I really like Rachel Hauck’s writing – oh! And there was a mention of one of her previous books that I thought was cute. :)
All in all, I found this to be quite an enjoyable book! Recommended for ages 18+
I received a complimentary copy from the publishers/Litfuse/FictionGuild in exchange for my honest review which I have given.
Posted in Book reviews, Litfuse, reading, Reviews

Litfuse Book Review: “The Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson

“The Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson
Part of the Fairy Tale Romance Series
Review copy source: Litfuse
My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
About the Book:

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.

Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.

The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?

As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?

My Thoughts:
Such a lovely book!! It was a great retelling of the fairy tale, Rapunzel. I really really love how Mrs. Dickerson doesn’t have any magic or anything in her books.
This book was excellent, and I loved every page of it. It was exciting, and fun, and the scenery was delightful! It’s related closely to “The Princess Spy”, and sometimes that got a little confusing for me, because I hadn’t read that one in quite a while – but even so, it didn’t cause problems with this book. You can easily read “The Golden Braid” as a stand-alone. There are just ties to “The Princess Spy” – characters, setting, and such. I like when authors do that; it adds some fun!
Rapunzel was a fantastic character, and the whole story was just portrayed perfectly! Gothel was really well written. And I loved Sir Gerek. Who couldn’t? :)
The faith strand was pretty good, too. I really loved that Sir Gerek received instruction from the Lord. It gave me goosebumps. :)
Oh and I really adored what Lady Rose said about how only God can truly fulfil our every desire – not a man. And yet she said it with the conviction of still needing a man – yeah, it was really good!
Even though I know the story of Rapunzel, scenes in this book came as a delightful surprise! I really loved it. And her being able to knife-throw was quite nice. :D It wasn’t as prominent to the story as I thought it might be, but it was still good.
All in all, I loved “The Golden Braid” and am looking forward to reading more from the author!!
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.
Posted in Book reviews, Books, Litfuse

Litfuse Book Review: “A Respectable Actress” by Dorothy Love

“A Respectable Actress” by Dorothy Love

Historical Mystery Fiction

Review copy source: Litfuse

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

When India Hartley is accused of murder, she must uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.

India Hartley, a famous and beautiful actress, is now alone after her father’s death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah’s Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night’s performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.

A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best—and handsomest—lawyer in Savannah to defend India. A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simons Island. He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.

Because India can’t go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date. India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia lowcountry and is increasingly drawn to Philip. But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip’s dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions. Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom. If only he will believe her.

 

My Thoughts:

I was pretty pleasantly surprised with this book. It would’ve gotten a big higher rating had it had a fantastic faith-strand, but that was sadly missing. However, the mystery and suspense of this book was gripping. It wasn’t creepy, or dark at all, and the feel of it was lovely, truly. I really liked the character India and Philip, as well as Amelia, and a several others.  The historical aspect was rich and yet it didn’t bog the book down at all, which I really appreciate. It really was a rather beautiful book.

The setting was intriguing, and well described so that I could picture it well. There were some interesting twists, and this book kept my attention quite well!

This quote made me happy:

“Anybody who collects books can’t be all bad” – Phillip Sinclair, A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love

So true. :D

The romance was a little too fast, and as usual, the kissing was too soon, and before marriage. That was a shame.

To be honest, I’m not sure what else to say about this book. I enjoyed it, and would have enjoyed it a great deal more if God had been involved. That was really the only disappointing fact. I think with a great godly-theme, this book would be amazing!

I received a complementary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

 

 

 

Posted in Book reviews, Litfuse

Litfuse Book Review: “Irish Meadows” by Susan Anne Mason

 

 

 

(Click image above to go to its Amazon page)

“Irish Meadows” by Susan Anne Mason

Book One in the Courage to Dream series

Review copy source: Litfuse

My rating: 2.5 stars

 

About the book:

1911, Long Island, New York

Faced With an Uncertain Future, Sometimes
All You Have Left Is the Courage to Dream

Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he’s put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm,Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry–as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans.

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O’Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father’s machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

 

My thoughts:

 

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the tale, on the other hand, there were quite a few things that filled me with concern.

One of those such issues was the amount of kissing. Seriously, there was a vast amount and it really, really disappointed and rather disturbed me. It  gives the impression that kisses are no big deal – everyone kisses, so why not? But this is so wrong! A kiss is so special, sacred – something to save and cherish for our husbands -or wives in guys’ case. (I also want to make note that I’m not condemning those who have already given away their first kiss. But I do encourage you to dedicate any more of your kisses for your future husband/wife. God can create something beautiful if only we let Him!)

Another point of issue was how Brianna yearned for approval for her father for so long – and in the end, received it. The first part is believable – many children yearn for their father’s approval and love. But not all get it. Even so, I was hoping that, with this particular matter, it would be brought to light how important it is that we know we never need to seek God’s approval because He loves us unconditionally. No matter what. So I was hoping for that contrast, that lesson. It’s of course great that her father softened in the end, but it seemed as though her father’s approval was enough. And not everyone has that situation and it’s so critical to know that God is there even when our earthly father’s are not. We need to know that no matter what, God’s love is enough. In all circumstances.

The faith in this book was, in short, concerning. I felt like there were little moments of truth, but then they would be overshadowed by inconsistencies and untruth. I was troubled by the fact that in the book the characters sought absolution and forgiveness only from the priests – they didn’t go straight to God. My belief is we can go directly to God for forgiveness of our sins, or at least do both because I fear that otherwise God is left out of it all.  Many people say we don’t hear from God anymore or that how do we know we are forgiven unless a person tells us, but if we have a repentant heart, ask for forgiveness in true humbleness, God does forgive us, plain and simple. And I know for a fact that He still speaks to us today!  We need only listen with an open heart.   I was also uncomfortable with the fact that often the priest was compared to God. There was an instance where one of the characters was confessing to the priest, and the priest said “You’ve confessed to God and asked for His forgiveness, now accept His forgiveness” – but the character never actually prayed that to God. He only talked to the priest. I wanted to see more of the interactive relationship between character and our Lord. Another unsettling point was the fact that the girls, Colleen and Brianna, compared God to their father at one point, trying to say that God was in control. He is, I whole-heartedly believe that. But they compared it to their father, who at that stage, was very angry, demeaning and controlling, while God is loving and gentle all the time.  I know everyone has their own belief system and I am not trying to get into a debate with anyone! If you don’t agree, that is fine – we are all on our own journey and where we are at. (I am who I am by the grace of God.  1Cor)

I did like the romance story between Colleen and her beau and Brianna and hers, besides the kissing. I loved seeing Colleen’s character really grow and mature more. And the orphanage bits were really sweet too. As I said, there were things I enjoyed and things I didn’t care for. I liked the story and the writing style, I just wish there could’ve been some…alterations to the book. Brianna and Gilbert’s character was really strong in the beginning, which was nice. How they handled their relationship towards the end didn’t particularly sit well with me, but I won’t go into that.

My favourite character at first was Brianna, but it slowly changed to Colleen and Rylan, and also sweet little Delia. Their stories were sweet and I really like how they came together and ended. :)

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review which I have given.