Posted in Book reviews

“Midnight Comes” by S. J. Blasko ~ Book Review

My devotional post will be up next Monday. For today, please enjoy this post about “Midnight Comes”!

 

 

Midnight Comes (Refractions: Fairytales Between the Lines, #1)

 

“Midnight Comes” by S.J. Blasko

Refractions: Fairytales Between the Lines, #1

review copy from the author

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

Once upon a time…
There was a sorceress, who cursed a prince to become as beastly as his pride
There was a daughter, who watched from her window and ached to see the world
There was a mermaid, who traded her voice in the hope of a soul
There was a stepmother, who saw beauty only in others, never in herself
And there was a boy, who forgot the warmth of love.

In five narrative poems exploring the darker, more human side of these classic fairytales, rediscover the characters as they are given a voice of their own.

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This is a creative collection. After reading novel after novel, I enjoyed reading this book of poem-like retellings. They are unique in the telling of familiar fairy tales.
My favourite of this collection would certainly be “Mermaid’s Soul” – it flowed beautifully, and had a bittersweet tone of reality.
I’m a lover of words and seeing them in this format makes for an enjoyable read. It was a short collection, so perfect to read in one sitting.
I look forward to Miss Blasko’s future writings. :)

 

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Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“Murder at the Flamingo” by Rachel McMillan ~ Book Review

 

 

 

“Murder at the Flamingo” by Rachel McMillan

A Van Buren and Deluca Mystery

 

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure…”

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square.  When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man,” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand. 

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build. 

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I’ve got a lot of cover-love for this one. Not to mention the clever title. :)
I liked the story itself alright, but to be honest it wasn’t my most favourite.I had a bit of a hard time getting into it, and sometimes it felt choppy and jumped around a bit to where I wasn’t sure I knew what was going on and would need to read the same thing several times before I would get what was going on.
There were several things that were repeated and sometimes felt a little more like filling rather than integral to the book.
I liked Hamish quite a bit, and loved his love for The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – that was extremely endearing to me. How he carried his well-loved copy with him and knew parts of it by heart; yep, loved that! And I also appreciated his struggles with anxiety. No, I don’t like anxiety, but it is nice to see real characters with real struggles. And while I don’t suffer from panic attacks or anxiety at the severe level he does, I could understand. I applaud the author for writing this into his character and making him come to see himself as strong through it all.
I liked Reggie and enjoyed their relationship, until the latter half of the book. Reggie was very fickle in her romance and it was very aggravating. Literally, in one chapter she was kissing one of the two men she goes between, and is having a marvelous time with him, and then in the very next chapter she is said as feeling wildly attracted to the other man, trying to keep her gaze from tracing his lips. That just irked me. I understand that “the heart is deceitful, who can know it?” but it was like there was no conflict of her conscience either.
The mystery plot was pretty well done. It kept you wondering till the end. As I mentioned above, there were definitely parts where I felt lost in the explaining of it, but that might just be me.
I was also disappointed by the utter lack of faith included. It was ‘clean’, but I wouldn’t classify it as Christian.
I didn’t hate this book. I just didn’t love it like I had hoped.There were definitely aspects I enjoyed, like the time period, and the nightclub, and the dancing. And I would be curious to see how the series continues.
I think it will be one that many people love. And I wish I could’ve said the same for me. It was just a bit of a miss for me, but that doesn’t mean it will be for you. :)

 

 

 

 

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*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.

Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

“The Masterpiece” by Francine Rivers ~ Book Review

 

 

Review copy from Tyndale Publishers 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
About the Book:
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship―and both their lives―forever.

My Thoughts:
 
I may not have read  all of Francine River’s books, but I know that, by picking up one of hers, I will be guaranteed an excellent and deeper read.
Right from page one, I was drawn into “The Masterpiece”, and was not keen to stop when life required it. ;)
It is such a realistic read, with real struggles. The author doesn’t tip-toe around the harsher things in life. And yet she still weaves it in a tasteful way.
Both main characters, Roman and Grace, suffered pretty horrible and traumatic childhoods. And our childhood does shape us into how we deal with life as an adult. I feel that it was portrayed very well in this book. Reading about their trauma’s was heart-wrenching. I felt for these characters as if they were real people.
The message of Christ was also very realistically and beautifully shown. It was very poignant, and touching.  I also liked the morals Grace upheld, even when it was difficult. Yes, she’s made mistakes, but all Christians do.  And in everything, she still fought to keep God at the forefront.
Roman’s journey was an important one. I was so happy to see his conclusion, and the things God brought him to. Very cool.
Despite that this is a bigger book, I actually think there could have been a bit more at the end – I wasn’t quite ready for it to come to its finish. However, it was nicely done. Just wanted more, as you do with many a good book. :)
One small thing that kind of bugged me was some of the ways Grace raised her son, Samuel – she was an excellent mother, but she didn’t have a problem leaving him with people she didn’t know after moving to a new place, or letting him cry because he was apart from her, etc. I realize that these are just different parenting-things and different views, however, it is also true that leaving our children to people we do not know, could result in abuse.  That wasn’t included in this book, but it bothers me when people are casual about leaving children in unknown situations. As well as the fact that society (even churches) push parents to leave their kids with others.
Otherwise Grace was a very loving mother.
The graffiti-art aspect of this novel was terrific. I found it very fascinating, and the whole thing just worked together greatly.
I very much enjoyed this novel. :) It was a very powerful book that I look forward to reading again!
*This book is geared more for mature-readers. As I said, the author doesn’t skirt certain issues. Topics of abuse, death, sex, etc. are involved.
Posted in Book reviews

“Dance from Deep Within” by D. L. Sleiman ~ Book Review

Dance from Deep Within

 

“Dance from Deep Within” by D.L. Sleiman

Review copy through WhiteFire publishers

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

Despite her conservative Muslim heritage, Layla Al-Rai longs for a chance to earn her degree in engineering and perhaps even…dare she dream…to choose her own husband. But young women from her background rarely enjoy such freedoms. When she finally talks her parents into letting her attend college, she is drawn to fellow twenty-something students, Allie and Rain, over a class project. Allie, the blonde ballerina, faces her own struggles as she deals with an ex-fiancé and a church she had hoped to leave behind. Rain, the bi-racial hippie chick, longs for something to believe in, but her questioning could cost her the love of her life. When Layla s childhood sweetheart reenters her world, it seems her dreams might become real. Until everything falls apart. When she meets truth face to face, will she find the courage to accept it even if it requires the ultimate sacrifice?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I hate that I have to give this such a low rating. :(
I love the authors other books (published under Dina Sleiman), and had every hope and expectation that this one would become a favourite too. And I did really like how it was written, and it was easy to follow along with, easy to understand the characters, and I enjoyed their stories, really I did. But the spiritual basis – there was too much that made me uncomfortable.
Each of the three characters, Layla, Allie, and Rain, are searching for Truth in their own ways. They are each very diverse, come from very different backgrounds, but they form a tight bond which each other. And I loved their friendship.
But, as I said, their spiritual beliefs, in the end, did not seem Biblical to me. It was as they treated God too casual. There is a Nicole Nordemon song that says “Let me not forget to tremble” before the Lord. And that song continued to pop itself into my mind as I felt unsettled about various parts of the book. Yes, Jesus is always with us, always here, but He is still Lord. We still owe Him our reverence, because He is Holy. And I felt that the Holiness was missing here.
Also, I was very uncomfortable with the fact that, throughout the book, it was continually referenced that Yahweh and “Allah” were one and the same God. And I cannot agree with that. Their characteristics alone are not similar, they are not the same God. There is only One True God. Yahweh, I Am.
I appreciate Layla’s dedication to what she believed was ‘God’, but do not feel she was worshiping the true God.
Of each of the characters, I think Rain was my favourite – the hippie. A lot of her story was one that pulled on your heart, and her searching was real, and realistic. If I read the second book, it would be because of her.
This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the other two – I rooted for Layla and her story, and Allie to find her own healing too. But I didn’t care for Allie’s view on faith, with all the death-metal vibes, and laissez faire attitude about God.
And the use of the Message Bible made my heart weep. I know a review is not really the place for such a discussion, but I cannot let it go unmentioned that this version takes out the reverence and Holiness of God. The verses used…they are such a far distance from the real Truth, and yes, made my soul sorrow.
*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.
Posted in Book reviews, Books

“The Hunter and the Valley of Death”

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Happy first Monday of July! And boy is it a hot one.
I know that I normally do an Author Interview on the first Monday, but June was such a busy month that I was not able to line one up…so I do apologize for that. But I do have something else in store for today :)
It is the release day for the first book in the Psalm series by three different authors. The first book is…”The Hunter and the Valley of Death” by Brennan McPherson.
And I had to absolute pleasure of being able to read and review it. So I would very much like to share about the book today, as well as my review.
Happy Release Day!

“The Hunter and the Valley of Death” by Brennan S. McPherson

 

A man wakes up in the Valley of Death and realizes he’s given up everything to attempt to kill Death so that he can bring his Love back to life–but when he fails, who will be there to rescue him?

The Hunter and the Valley of Death is a profound meditation on life, death, loss, and love. Formatted as a fantasy parable based on Psalm 23, this story shows that there is only One who could kill Death–and because of him, and him alone, we say, “Oh, Death, where is your sting?”

 

 

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Review copy from the author

 

 

This was an extremely profound story. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, but it really did astound me. It felt very much like Pilgrim’s Progress or “Till We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis. A fantasy parable/allegory. And it was beautiful and powerful.
The way it was written – so unique, and it just flowed excellently. It captivates the reader and fully draws you into its world.
The symbolism of Psalm 23 was lovely, and how it was all portrayed through the story – brilliant. I found numerous truths in “The Hunter and the Valley of Death”. And oh, the beauty of that truth, specifically regarding suffering. That couldn’t be more apt for me to read right now.
I feel like I can’t even give this book justice in a review for the beauty of it, and the deep meaning.
The only thing is I would have liked just a tiny bit bigger emphasis made of the repentance stage, as that is very important. And personally, my favourite version of Psalm 23 is the KJV or NKJV – I feel it holds the most reverence. So I would’ve preferred to see that in this, but as I’ve stated in past reviews, I know that everyone has different opinions on Bible versions.
Otherwise, I really did love this book, and the notes at the end. It was a short novella, but full of meaning. I am looking forward to rereading it, just to digest more of it. Excellent!
*I didn’t make the graphics; they were provided by the authors of the Psalm series.
Posted in blog tour, Book reviews

“Trust and Obey” by Faith Blum ~ Blog Tour/Review

Trust and Obey Blog Tour

Faith Blum has a new book. And it’s not a Western. It is a fairy tale retelling set during the time of King Saul. Read on to learn more about the book.

About the Book

Trust and Obey_KindleA wicked priestess, a morally corrupt king, and two children stuck in the middle…

Hadassah and Gidal love their parents and will do anything for them. When Priestess Basmat tell Ehud and Jerusha to pay their debt, they cannot and she takes Hadassah and Gidal as her slaves for two years.

The priestess works them hard, but there are two other servants to divide the load with, so they cope as well as they can. Then King Saul comes in disguise requesting the priestess’s other services—as a medium.

Will Hadassah and Gidal trust Adonai to take care of them? What will happen after Priestess Basmat comes face-to-face with the prophet Samuel?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D939ZPL Continue reading ““Trust and Obey” by Faith Blum ~ Blog Tour/Review”

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.