Monday, September 30, 2013

September Review

Wow! I can not believe September is coming to a close already! This month has just flown by...and September 25th marked 3 months till Christmas!! The year is flying by! I will say, it has gone even quicker with the help of some AMAZING books this month.

 Books I Reviewed:





 City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy L. Higley (Booksneeze)
What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Blogging for Books)
Made to Last by Melissa Tagg (Bethany House)
Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund (Bethany House)
A Bride for Noah by Lori Copeland & Virgina Smith (Harvest House)
Beneath the Dover Sky by Murray Pura (Harvest House)
Skull Creek Stakeout by Eddie Jones (Zonderkids & DJC Communications)
Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher (Litfuse Publicity & Zondervan)
Blog Tour:  10/7 – 10/27
The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson (Litfuse Publicity & Summerside Press)
Blog Tour: 9/23 – 10/5
The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser (Litfuse Publicity & Summerside Press)
Blog Tour: 10/8 – 10/26
The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)

Books I Bought:

 Song of War by Cliff Graham
Love's Awakening by Laura Frantz
Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings
Shattered by Dani Pettrey
Glittering Promises by Lisa T. Bergren


 It's been a fantastic month full of wonderful and much anticipated reads! How was your September?

Review: The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

Title: The Captive Maiden
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 286
ISBN: 978-0-310-72441-4
Publication Date: November 19th, 2013 (Expected)

Synopsis:
Happily Ever After ...Or Happily Nevermore?

Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke's son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have.

To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.
Review:
I just want to start off by saying, "Thank You!!" to Melanie Dickerson. In every Cinderella tale I have seen or read, there is always been one thing that has driven me nuts. Cinderella has always been introduced to the Hero as the servant of the house or she tells him, she is a servant in her stepmothers house. With that, there will always be misunderstandings and "Cinderella" never mentions that she is related to her stepmother, at least not till the end and everything resolves with that. Melanie Dickerson has fixed that issue in this story and it made my heart happy!

Gisela was just two-years-old when she lost her mother, then she was seven-years-old when she lost her father. He had remarried not long before his passing, so the house and his horses he prized and sold were passed on to his new wife, Evfemia. Evfemia only cared about her two daughters Irma and Contzel and forced Gisela to a small room to live in, never allowed a fire in winter, and made Gisela care for her father's prized horses, which wasn't a punishment to her, since she loved the horses.

Valten, Lord Hamlin, the eldest son of the Duke Wilhelm and eldest brother to Gabe (The hero from The Fairest Beauty), is back in Hagenheim after being away for a couple of years participating in tournaments around the kingdom. One of his first days back, Valten decided to see how things in the town where he and his family lived and so not draw attention to himself, dressed as a commoner. It was in this visit he spots a horse that looks like his horse's twin brother and goes to investigate, only to find that the horse belongs to Gisela. After visiting with her for a short time, Valten invites Gisela to the three day tournament and ball his family is hosting in his honor. It is then that Valten watches as Gisela is treated horribly by her stepmother and regrets that she has to go with her supposed family.

Gisela doesn't have the help of a fairy godmother in the story, just a friend that hates that she is mistreated by her family. Gisela's friend Ava does her best to see that Gisela has a way to the tournament and to make sure Gisela's favorite horse is safe while she is away. At the tournament, Gisela is able to visit with Valten and even his family, but the happiness that Gisela is short lived when her stepmother, stepsisters, and a friend of theirs interferes, trying to keep her from festivities. What follows are chases, fights, thirst for revenge, and more fights.

Melanie Dickerson presents such an interesting twist to the Cinderella story. It is refreshing!  The Captive Maiden was a book that was hard to put down, but so easy to pick back up and immerse yourself in again! Evfemia, Gisela's stepmother has the right amount of nastiness about her, she makes Lady Tremaine seem civil. There is also another force going against Valten and Gisela and he is one who is easy to loath.

The Captive Maiden is such a fun and fast paced story!
Too Read!
5 out of 5

About the Author:
Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.





Thank you to Zondervan, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Glittering Promises

Title: Glittering Promises
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: David C Cook
Pages: 455
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6428-7
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013

Synopsis:
Wealth cannot buy peace … or direction.

For Cora Kensington, the Grand Tour was to be the trip of a lifetime. She discovered the family she never knew she had, and may have even found the love she longs for in Will. And yet her life has just become infinitely more challenging …

Hounded by journalists chasing the beguiling story of the newest American heiress, Cora fights to remain true to her past, reconcile her present, and still embrace her future. But as Will struggles with her newfound wealth, she begins to wonder if their love is strong enough to withstand all that threatens to pull them apart.

Complicating matters is the stubborn pursuit of Pierre de Richelieu and the increased demands on her time and attention. Cora must stand up for what she believes—regardless of how that might challenge current family and cultural norms—in order to remain true to who she really is.

And as she glimpses the end of the tour, Cora knows it’s time to decide Who and what defines her … and who and what does not.
Review:
What a way to end a series! Mystery, suspense, and romance. Glittering Promises kept on track with the previous two books in the series and brought about a great conclusion.

We are following Cora and her half siblings and their close family friends the Morgans in the final part of their Grand Tour through Italy. They have evaded kidnappers and sneaky reports up to this point. Now joining the siblings are their fathers, Mr. Morgan and Mr. Kensington.

Wallace Kensington is ready to demand that his children return home after the last kidnapping attempt, however Cora is determined to press on and see the rest of the tour through. In her time with her siblings, she has learned so much about them and is still learning more about herself and refuses to miss out. Cora is also determined to not be pushed around by Wallace Kensington. Wallace wants Cora to peruse a relationship with Pierre de Richelieu, as it would be a wonderful business opportunity, but Cora doesn't want to be another pawn to her father and wants to follow her heart, even if it leads her to Will, the leader of the tour and not part of the upper-crust like the Morgans and Kensingtons.

Cora is also willing to battle her father, Wallace, over the rights of the new mine found on her parents old farm. After getting some advice, Wallace decides to follow it and he isn't the adversary Cora ever expected to face. Andrew Morgan has his own ideas to the new mine and how it should be run. However, Andrew isn't the only problem, Nathan Hawke, the leader behind the kidnapping attempts is still following Cora and her family. Then there is the persistence of Pierre de Richelieu.

There are many questions answered in Glittering Promises along with a couple of new questions, which are resolved as well, and the resolution between Cora and Wallace is not one I expected, but after reading it through, it was the only way possible.

There were a couple of parts that I didn't click with, but the resolution was worth it in the end. And it wasn't enough to take away from the story in the least.

Lisa T. Bergren is able to bring Italy to you in her writing. Her description in the book is phenomenal and she is able to show her love of the area through the eyes of Cora and the rest of the group. Glittering Promises draws you in and hold on to you till the very end.

Too Read!
5 out of 5

Fall into Reading Read-a-Thon: Wrap-up

It's wrap up time for the Read-a-Thon, hosted by The Bibliophile Sisters, and I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with what I've accomplished. It's been a fun week full of great books!

As of today here is where I stand:
Sunday, September 29th
Total Pages Read: 1,788
Total Books Read: 5 1/2
Currently Reading: The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson
I was able to reach my goal and I went 1/2 past it!

I was able to read:

I started:



Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (13)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's a way to spotlight the new books you got this past week. It can be bound books or e-books. Books you have received for review, prizes, ones you have bought, or even borrowed.

I'm super excited about the books I got this week! I've been looking forward to both for awhile!

Review:
The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)
A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano (Bethany House)

Bought:
Glittering Promises by Lisa T. Bergren

What new books did you receive this week?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kid Favorite Friday: For the little bit older kid

Last week was crazy and I never got around to doing a Kid Favorite Friday. This week, it's a little later in the day...but it is on Friday!

I decided to focus today on kids books for the little bit older kid...8-13 year-olds. There are so many different kinds of books out there, but like with adult books, I'm picky. I will pick up a kids book and read it, so when my kiddo gets to that age, I know I won't hand over something that would make me want to hit my head into a wall. I have found one series, I could not get through. I won't mention it, but it was turned into a movie... and the movie was 100x better.

These are a few books that start a series that I have found well written and can keep your attention.



The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Meet Kirsten by Janet Beeler Shaw
Andi Unexpected by Amanda Flower
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Some of these I read when I was younger and others I have just came across. I would recommended these to any older kid who wants a little adventure. They are all well written and the stories are fun.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Title: What Once Was Lost
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: Water Brook Press
Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0-307-73125-8
Publications Date: September 17th, 2013

Synopsis:
A woman meant to serve, a child in the dark, a man standing apart—can these three souls embrace a God with new plans for them?

On a small Kansas farm, Christina Willems lovingly shepherds a group of poor and displaced individuals who count on her leadership and have come to see the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor as their home. But when a fire breaks out in the kitchen leaving the house inhabitable, she must scramble to find shelter for all in her care, scattering her dear “family.”

With no other options, Christina is forced to approach Levi Jonnson, a reclusive mill owner, to take in a young blind boy named Tommy Kilgore. Levi agrees with reluctance but finds himself surprised by the bond that quickly grows between him and Tommy. As obstacles to repairing the farm pile up against Christina, she begins to question her leadership ability and wonders if she can fulfill the mission to which she's dedicated her life. And when an old adversary challenges Christina, will she find an unlikely ally—or more—in the aloof Levi? Can Levi reconcile with the rejection that led to his hermit-like existence and open his heart and life to something more, especially a relationship with a loving God?
Review:
This was the first book that I have read by Kim Vogel Sawyer. I will say her writing style is great and keeps the story flowing nicely.

We start off the story with Christina Willems running the poor farm that she and her father had run for years in Brambleville Kansas. Not long ago, Christina had lost her father and she had taken up sole care of the poor farm and the people who live there. However, the peace that surrounds the people there doesn't last long when they are roused in the middle of the night by Tommy, a ten-year-old boy who was blinded in an accident and dumped on the steps by his family, wakes everyone to let them know the fire. Everyone is able to escape, but the house suffers a lot of damage.

Christina does her best to place everyone who has lived in the house with people in town temporarily, until she can speak with the mission board about repairing the house. However things do not go as smoothly as Christina hopes. As soon as something seems to be in place, another area of her plan fall apart. We watch Christina start of high in her dreams and hopes for her future, only to be brought lower and lower, until all seems lost. Everything that Christina has ever hoped for seems to be stripped away.

Levi Johnson is the mill owner and operator for the town. He lives out a ways and hardly visits with the people in the area, turning him into a recluse. He sees no point involving himself with people. However, he is the last option Christina has to place Tommy, the blind boy in her care. Many people in town were happy to help the residence of the poor farm, but Tommy. After a little time Levi agrees. After a short time with Tommy, Levi slowly comes out of his shell and he finds that not only is Tommy helping him, but he is able to help Tommy. Since his accident, Tommy had lost the confidence a normal ten year-old-boy would have and with encouragement, he helps bring it back to Tommy.

What Once Was Lost was a story of over coming. Whether it is emotional, physical, or mental, it was over coming and relying on God to get you through.

Through out the story, I seemed to feel a better connection to Levi. I enjoyed reading his part of the story and his obstacles. I had a little harder time connecting to Christina. Her attitude about excepting help was a little hard to follow. She kept saying beggars can't be choosers, but she kept saying she wanted to go about getting help her own way. I did enjoy the story overall.

Too Read
4 out of 5

About the Author:
Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling author highly acclaimed for her gentle stories of hope. More than one million copies of her books are currently in print with awards including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas, where she and her retired military husband, Don, run a bed-and-breakfast inn with the help of their feline companions. She savors time with her daughters and grandchildren.

You can check out Kim's website at http://kimvogelsawyer.com/ .
If you would like a sneak peek at What Once Was Lost, you can check out the first chapter HERE.


Thank you to Blogging for Books and Water Brook Press, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Queen's Handmaid

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each week you can spotlight and up and coming release you are looking forward to.

Waiting On:
Title: The Queen's Handmaid
Author: Tracy L. Higley
Publication Date: March 18th, 2014

Synopsis:
From GoodReads
From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.

Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.
Why I'm Waiting:
I just finished reading City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. The story was great and the attention to detail was phenomenal. I can't wait to read more by Tracy L. Higley, and The Queen's Handmaid is set during a time period that I love to read about.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Into Reading Read-a-Thon: Day 3 Update

It's Day 3 of the Fall Into Reading Read-a-Thon, hosted by The Bibliophile Sisters.

I'm going to change how I update my reading progress. It's all going to be on this page from now on. I was confusing myself a bit.

Sunday Sep. 22nd
Pages Read: 264
Total Books Completed: 1
Currently Reading: City on Fire: A Novel on Pompeii by Tracy L. Higley

Monday, September 23rd
Pages Read: 319
Total Books Completed: 2
Currently Reading: The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser

Tuesday, September 24th
Pages Read: 336
Total Books Completed: 3
Currently Reading: Will be starting tomorrow, What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogal Sawyer

Wednesday. September 25th
Pages Read: 131
Total Books Completed: 3
Currently Reading: What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogal Sawyer

Thursday, September 26th
Pages Read: 280
Total Books Completed: 4
Currently Reading: Glittering Promises by Lisa T. Bergren
I received a new book I've been waiting on, so I started that one instead of the 2 I listed.

Friday, September 27th
Pages Read: 155
Total Books Completed: 4
Currently Reading: Glittering Promises by Lisa T. Bergren

Saturday, September 28th
Pages Read: 303
Total Books Completed: 5
Currently Reading: The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

Sunday, September 29th
Total Pages Read: 1,788
Total Books Read: 5 1/2
Currently Reading: The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson


Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy L. Higley

Title: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
Author: Tracy L. Higley
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 386
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8752-6
Publication Date: September 17th, 2013

Synopsis:
As Vesuvius churns, a slave girl-turned-gladiator joins forces with an unlikely source to seek justice.

In the coastal town of Pompeii, a new gladiator prepares to fight. But this gladiator hides a deadly secret: she’s a runaway Jewish slave girl named Ariella, disguised as a young boy. A savvy fighter,
Ariella determines to triumph in the arena, knowing her life will be forfeit should anyone uncover the truth.

Cato, a wealthy politician, moved to Pompeii after tiring of the corruption in Rome. But he soon learns that Pompeii is just as corrupt, and if he doesn’t play the game, his family could pay the price. Determined to bring about justice for the citizens of Pompeii, Cato searches for allies. But what he discovers instead is a confounding group of Christians . . . and a young female gladiator whose fame is growing daily.
Political unrest reaches a boiling point as Christians are jailed and executed, and the mountain in the distance threatens to destroy the city with its river of fire. Cato and Ariella must act quickly and courageously to save their loved ones before all is lost.

Review:
Wow! This was the first book that I have read by Tracy Higley and I'm looking forward to reading more by her.

City on Fire takes you all the way back to the time when Jerusalem fell to Rome and the people inside were either slaughtered or taken into captivity. Ariella, is one of the few left alive, after everyone, but her brother is slaughtered. She is shipped off to Rome and for the next 9 years, she is forced to work in the home of a greedy and disgusting individual, who thrives on the most heinous acts. However, Ariella finds her means of escape with a gladiator troupe and is able to flee Rome, to Pompeii.

Quintus Cato has suffered personal loss in Rome and has decided to leave that life behind and head to Pompeii with his mother and littler sister. Not long after arriving, Cato is introduced to Maius, a leader of Pompeii. It isn't long after that through Maius, Cato sees the corporation he viewed in Rome hasn't left him. Wanting to help the city to get out from under Maius thumb, Cato takes up a personal campaign that leads him to meet and interesting young gladiator named Ari.

The paths that Ariella and Cato face are different, but at the same time, similar. Cato wants a quiet life. Ariella just wants to be free again. To find the right way, they both end up using their smarts and their brawn, and in the end, they are both led to a home, full of caring and compassionate people. The home is full of people that the Emperor of Rome wants to see killed, Christians.

Ariella and Cato grow through out this whole story. Cato, not wanting to get back into the political world, only to see that is where is needed to help those he cares about. Ariella after her years of abuse, fights to trust and depend on people.

City on Fires brings you into the everyday world of Pompeii and just as you are settled in, the story begins to build, like that of a mountain, slowly giving away signs that chaos and destruction is on the way. As the book takes you along, the more you need to know and find out.

A fantastic book!
Too Read!
5 out of 5

About the Author:
Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including So Shines the Night, Garden of Madness, and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at TracyHigley.com.

Thank you to Booksneeze and Thomas Nelson, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Fall into Reading Read-a-Thon: Day 2 Update & Challenge

Day 2 of the Fall into Reading Read-a-Thon, hosted by The Bibliophile Sisters.


Yesterday was the first day of the read-a-thon and I think it has started off well!

Update:
Sunday Sep. 22nd
Pages Read: 264
Books Completed: 1
Currently Reading: City on Fire: A Novel on Pompeii by Tracy L. Higley

Challenge:

We are going to do a fall poem challenge. Basically, write a little poem about fall.

Ok, I haven't written a poem in quite a long while...but, here it goes.

The Beauty of Fall

Bright blue sky,
crisp and cool breeze.
Ducks start to fly,
a head of the coming freeze.

The colors of the trees change to yellow, orange, red.
Hot apple cider in hand,
and oh my, pumpkin bread.
Sadly this beautiful time slips away like sand.

 The time for enjoyment is here.
With a book close by,
it's easy to be happy this time of the year.
And with that, I now must say, good-bye.

It's not my best work, but it will have to do.
What would you poem about Fall be like?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall into Reading Read-a-Thon: Goals

Today is the start of Fall and the Fall into Reading Read-a-Thon. It is hosted by The Bibliophile Sisters and goes from today, September 22nd, till September 29th!

Goals:

I'm going to say 4, but try for 5.


I'm in the middle of Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher and I hope read these three others. And the 5th full book will be one these two.



Who's ready to kick fall off with some good books?