Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Review: The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover:
“Not to be Chosen would yield a cruel fate of my own making.”
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.
But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within.
Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

The Positives:
I have never read a dystopian novel. (I've never read the Hunger Games. Don't judge.) So this was my first glimpse into this genre. And I have to say I really enjoyed it.
The beginning pulled me right in and quickly explained what was happening and why. I wasn't left hanging or trying to figure out what was happening.
The whole ceremony of The Choosing was really interesting. It reminded me of very historical balls and ideas.
I liked the tidbits of history that were put in every so often. It really explained about the history of how the Authority and the city came to be.
The characters were awesome. Carrington was very realistic and was scared, but brave at the same time. Remko was very sweet and even though he couldn't talk very well, he did get his message across.
I loved the sections where you saw things from the villain's perspective, but there was no name or anything alluding to who he might be. It gave a sense of mystery to the book.

The Negatives:
The author didn't really explain about the story world. I mean, what technology did they have, were there any other people outside of the city? What about the rest of the world? Where there any other survivors after the outbreak, besides the one in the city in the book?
Technology was generally explained and shown, but not to the degree I wanted.

Even though I don't much experience with dystopian novels, I did think this book was very good and I would totally recommend it! I can't wait for book 2!

Q&A with Rachelle Dekker
About the Author . . . The oldest daughter of New York
Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle
Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth
through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in
communications and spent several years in marketing
and corporate recruiting before making the transition
to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her
husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her
online at

1. How did you come up with the story for The Choosing?
This is a hard question because it has many answers. I wanted to write a
theme-based novel about identity. I wanted to write a dystopian novel. I
wanted to write in a world that was familiar, but in a setting where I could
change the way the world worked. It actually is several ideas I’d been toying
with pulled into one story. Once I landed on Carrington’s core revelation and
story arc, I simply fell in love with her as a character and drew the rest of the
story around her. That’s usually how it works for me. I come up with a
character, good or bad, and create the story from there.

2. You based your main character, Carrington, off of your younger
sister. In what ways is Carrington like her?
It’s more the beliefs that Carrington struggles with that remind me of my sister. The idea of
worth, of not feeling like you’re enough, or questioning whether anyone would choose you.
Carrington came about as I spent time with my sister and her college-age friends and saw
that a large majority of them were searching for significance, searching for worth—none
more than my sister at the time.

3. Throughout the book, Carrington struggles with understanding her identity and
worth and what is true. Why did you decide to write about the theme of identity?
Someone once asked me, If you could leave one message for your younger sisters, what
would it be? The answer was always the same: I would pray they knew what they were
worth. Identity is everything. There isn’t a theme that doesn’t start with identity, or circle
back to identity. Knowing who you truly are is the greatest journey we face. Am I enough;
am I worth it? I believe everyone faces these questions, and I sought out to explore them
through this story. 


You can read the full Q&A HERE.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: As Love Blooms by Lorna Seilstad

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover:
Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious. Denied a position as a horticulturalist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her. She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory. But before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park--and a major distraction. Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream. But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart?

Against a lush backdrop of early twentieth century Saint Paul, Minnesota, Lorna Seilstad weaves a sweet and sassy story that is sure to please. Tessa's young romance opens like a rose, stealing readers' hearts and filling their senses with the intoxicating fragrance of dreams come true.

The Positives:
This book was so sweet! Tessa is so feisty and a bit reckless, but she is brilliant. Reese is amazing and the way he loves Tessa is just awesome. I loved that she tried many different things before settling on gardening as a career. Too bad, she would have been great as a Pinkerton detective. *wink*
I have never read a book where gardening was the main theme. So, it was fun to learn more about gardening.
Tessa is creative and super smart. But, she does sneak about to get things to go her own way. Later, she does repent and she comes clean in that regard.
Reese is smart and kind. He's the kind of guy that every girl adores. He's steady and helps Tessa with her plan. He seems a bit more reluctant about sneaking around than she does, and he comes clean of that as well.
And of course, everything does work out in the end. All's well that ends well.

The Negatives:
There was no clear introduction to the characters and setting. The action began too quickly.

This was an awesome book with a very sweet romance. I completely recommend it!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: The Pharaoh's Daughter by Mesu Andrews

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover:
“You will be called Anippe, daughter of the Nile. Do you like it?” Without waiting for a reply, she pulls me into her squishy, round tummy for a hug. 
I’m trying not to cry. Pharaoh’s daughters don’t cry.
When we make our way down the tiled hall, I try to stop at ummi Kiya’s chamber. I know her spirit has flown yet I long for one more moment. Amenia pushes me past so I keep walking and don’t look back. 
Like the waters of the Nile, I will flow.

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.
     When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.
  As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

The Positives:
This book was amazing! It pulled me in from the beginning. I've only read one other book that's based in Ancient Egypt, so it was interesting to read another one. I love how the author wove the the characters together. It was something I never thought of that Tut could have been Pharaoh at the time of baby Moses and he was the one that ordered that the baby Hebrew boys be killed.
Anippe was one of those main characters that's very vulnerable, but she was strong when she needed to be. Her story was incredible. She saved Moses because she was afraid of bearing her own children and she had to go to great lengths to make sure no one everyone figured out that he was not her child.
As in the movies, Moses was just a Prince and not really doing anything important with his time. But I think books are much more accurate than movies. Moses was literally trained to be Pharoah one day.
I think is very historically accurate. I never really thought a lot about what really happened to Moses and his adopted mother. It is fiction, but something like this might have happened.

The Negatives:
Nothing for me!

I loved this book! It was well written and the story was compelling. I would definitely recommend it! I cannot wait to read book two!

More Info 
Author Bio

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

I reviewed the first book in this series HERE.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover:
What if the title, the estate, the life of security and splendor… what if it wasn't enough?

Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to her older male cousin, Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain’s elite.

When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London’s East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love—and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served. 

The Positives:
First of all, I LOVE the time period. Also, being set in England is a huge plus. This book is very Downton Abbey-esque. The parties, the coming out ball, and the presentation to the King and Queen reminded me of many things I have seen in Downton Abbey.
Kate was awesome. She was totally what I love in a main character. She was sweet and kind but, a little clueless about how the lower class lived since she grew up in wealth. But, she loved to work at the free clinic and help.
Jonathan was great. He was a medical student with a lot of talent. He could become a famous doctor one day. But, he loved to work in the free clinic and actually help people. He was kind and cared a lot for Kate.
I always love the stories when the wealthy young woman suddenly realizes there is more than parties and dresses and she finds more satisfaction in helping people.
Kate's salvation was a big part of this story. I loved that she was always open and willing to hear the truth.

The Negatives:
There was at least five different points of view. It did get a bit distracting. But, it wasn't a huge negative.

I loved this book and I highly recommend it!

More Info
Author Bio

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover: 
Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

The Positives:
Even though this was the third book in the series, it could definitely stand alone. 
The cover of this book is gorgeous, also! 
Wren was such an interesting character to read about. She was so out of place in New Hope, but she was always kind to everyone she met. I felt for her with all her new surroundings and the expectations that were placed on her.
Her relationship with James Sacketts reminded me of Sybil and Branson in Downton Abbey. He was below her in class and it would be unsuitable for them to marry. He was a very memorable character. He was stoic on the outside and very emotional on the inside. 
But Wren and James romance wasn't the only one in the book. There was also Izannah and Malachi. Even though their romance wasn't the center of the book, it was a big part of the story.
I loved the setting in Pennslyvania. And the since the Ballantynes owned a big part of the riverboat industry, there was some information on that.

The Negatives:

This was a lovely book and I highly recommend it!

I have included a special video that was provided by the publisher. It's on the making of the Love's Fortune's cover. Please watch it!

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover:
In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston's respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she'd hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor's risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor's closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

The Positives:
First of all, I loved the cover for this book! But the inside far outweighed the outside.
It starts with the prologue with Kate and Trevor twelve years when they were competing for a scholarship to college. It showed their rivalry. It also showed how they were so alike that they were destined to either be best friends or mortal enemies.
This book gave me a crazy inside look at tuberculosis back near the turn of the century. Everyone was terrified of it because it was fatal in 90% of the cases.
Trevor reminded me a lot a mixture of Sherlock Holmes and a character that I'm writing, who is very stoic. It gave a very interesting dynamic to his character. He would be smiles and laughing one minute and then grim expressions and blank stares the next. Sometimes I felt like Kate, I wanted to punch him. Sometimes it seemed like he didn't care about his patients, but it was really that he couldn't care about them or he would get hurt again.
Ah, Kate. Spitfire Kate. My kind of girl. She was so witty and entertaining and she knew exactly what to say. But she wasn't totally perfect. She had lots of fear. She couldn't seem to let go and trust God. She felt like she knew what was best for her younger brother because she practically raised him, even when he was old enough to know what he really wanted. But I still liked her and she did grow and change throughout the book.

The Negatives:

This was a great book and highly recommend it!

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Through the Deep Waters GIVEAWAY!

Today I'm posting a giveaway for Through the Deep Waters. Blogging for Books has started a new program where bloggers can giveaway books.

I reviewed Through the Deep Waters and it is one of my favorite books and I'm super excited to be doing a giveaway for it.

It's simple to enter, just click the link below to fill out the form and submit!

The contest starts on July 31, 2014 at 6:00am EST and ends on August 20th, 2014 at 11:59pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21st, 2014 and will be alerted by email. For a complete listing of the rules, please click link above.

Hope you all will enter!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Review: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover:
Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love.

In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.

Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?

The Positives:
WOW. THIS BOOK. This was amazing! I have to admit, it didn't seem like my kind of book from just reading the back cover. But the inside is a million times better than the back cover.
The emotions and the dialogue and the entire setting of this story was perfect.
Tamsen was exactly the kind of heroine I like. She was smart, courageous, a bit headstrong at times, but she is now one of my favorite heroines. Her stepfather was a hateful man and I cheered for Tamsen every time she evaded him.
Jesse wasn't exactly what you would call 'Prince Charming' in term of looks, but his character and faith make him the perfect hero for this story. His backwoods, mountain man/indian look gave him the appearance of a heathen, but he constantly prays throughout this entire book. He wants what's best for Tamsen and he will protect her whatever the cost.
The setting in the late 1780's in the middle of the fight between the State of Franklin and North Carolina was interesting. I had never heard of The Lost State of Franklin until I read this book. It presented some legal problems for the characters, because neither state could agree which was a real state.

The Negatives:

This was an amazing book and I highly recommend it!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Author's Website
Read Chapter One

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Short Story Sunday: Irreplaceable Words

I'm pretty lazy about posting on my blog regularly. I've decided I needed to post something besides book reviews. So I've started Short Story Sunday. Every (or every other) Sunday (or Saturday) I will post a short story I wrote. Sometimes it will be based on a picture and other times I just came up with it on a whim.
 Enjoy my short story!

I found this picture while just scrolling through my feed on Pinterest. It really intrigued me. The angle of the photo makes it seem that somebody might be looking in at her from across the street. There is just something about a girl in a coffee shop, writing in a journal, that made me think of me (or what I should be doing: writing.)

Photo credit: Pinterest

Irreplaceable Words

There she was across the street in the coffee shop. She was the girl he had seen yesterday at the park. 
He had been walking by on his way to work when he saw her. She had been pacing around, talking to herself, while scribbling in her notebook. He had stopped and watched her; curious at what she was doing. She had seemed to be acting out an intense scene between two characters. She had suddenly stopped. He had then realized that she had spotted him watching her. He had held her eyes for a moment before turning and walking quickly away. He hadn’t stopped thinking about her. 
And today he could hardly believe it when he spotted her across the street in the coffee shop. 
She had her chin in her hand and was writing in her notebook. Her red hair fell over her shoulder and a few strands seemed to dip into her coffee cup. She didn’t seem to notice.
Before he knew what he was doing, he ran across the street and entered the coffee shop. The strong, sweet smell of coffee and caramel greeted him. He kept glancing over the where she sat. He saw her take a sip of her coffee and continued to write in her notebook as she did so. 
She accidentally sat her cup down too hard and not quite upright. The cup tipped over. She was able to set it upright before all of it came out. But dark brown liquid had already spilled over her notebook and down the front of her. 
Without thinking, he grabbed some napkins from a nearby table and rushed over to help. 
“Oh it’s ruined!” she exclaimed, staring down at her notebook. She didn’t seem to care about her clothes or the coffee burns she had on her hands. She was only concerned about her notebook and the words she had written down in it. 
“Here, let me help.” He quickly handed her some napkins and together they tried to salvage what was left of the notebook. They were able to mop up most of the coffee in around the notebook, but not before the notebook had absorbed the rest of it. 
She gingerly lifted up her notebook. Drips of coffee spilled out. He saw tears in her eyes. She must have been working on something important, but now it was lost to her. She sat the notebook down back on the table and turned to him. 
“Thank you for helping me.” 
“You’re welcome.” 
She looked at him curiously with her large green eyes. “Weren’t you the guy that was watching me in the park?” 
He gave a sheepish grin. “Guilty as charged.” She smiled rather sadly back. She kept glancing over at her notebook. He suddenly had an idea. “Can I… buy you a new coffee? And maybe a new notebook?” 
She looked back at him. “A coffee would be nice, a new notebook would be nice, but I can never replace those words that were lost.”


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review: Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover:
The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.
But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.
Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.
The Positives:
I loved this book! I totally related with Annie in regard to her stories.
I didn't get into this book right away, due to some skeptic reviews other people had about another book the author wrote. But once I did get into it, I fell head over heels in love with the characters.
I love everything Irish, so Annie and her lovely red hair and stubborn streak really made me love her.
I am a writer and I LOVE books and that aspect of the book was wonderful.
Stephen was so sweet! He loved books and was nice to everyone he met. He sounded like my kind of guy; American, dark hair, and loves books. He always wanted what was best for Annie, but he did make mistakes.
Annie was a bit headstrong sometimes. She thought she was able to take care of herself, and that managed to put her in a few potentially dangerous situations.
Annie believed that God cared nothing about her and abandoned her. It took until almost the end of the book before she finally realized she was wrong.

The Negatives:
Sometimes I thought that Stephen could be a bit more assertive and masculine. But it wasn't a big downer for this story.

This book was amazing and I highly recommend it!

I received this book for free from Tyndale House in exchange for my honest review.