Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron (Litfuse Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Title: The Butterfly and the Violin
Author: Kristy Cambron
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-1-4016-9059-5
Publication Date: July 8th, 2014

Synopsis:
A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.
Review:
Oh, my goodness...I don't know where to start with this story.

Kristy Cambron knocks this book out of the park. I couldn't believe that this was a debut novel. The writing was superb, the historical detail was phenomenal, and the story just captured you up into it making you forget all about the time. This was a book that made me stay up even later then usual.

I enjoyed how the two perspectives of this story really brought the whole picture together. We follow Sera James in our present day. She has been on the hunt for the one painting that has stuck with her since she was young. She wants to share it with everyone so that everyone can see the beauty of it like she did. In her hunt, she meets William, and with his connection to the painting, their meeting starts off rocky to say the least. However, as they start to work together, they uncover things that Sera has not noticed in her previous research. In that it brings more questions then answers.

Through Adele Von Bron, we get to see the two side of the Third Reich. The glittering parties that praised her accomplishments and the dark and deadly side that had no problem hunting down the Jews and people who helped them. Adele is forced to use her gift with the violin as a torture of sorts that the Nazi's have thought up in Auschwitz. As much as she hates playing it, she knows that it keeps her alive in this death camp.

As each side of the story is brought forward, you keep turning pages to see what else is uncovered. The story grips you and leaves you wanting more.

Too Read!
5 out of 5


About the Author:
Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with WWII since hearing her grandfather’s stories. She holds an Art History degree from Indiana University and works as Communications Consultant. Kristy writes WWII and Regency fiction and placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.
Website: www.kristycambron.com
Twitter: @KCambronAuthor
Facebook: Kristy-L-Cambron-Author


Giveaway:
Welcome to the launch campaign for debut novelist Kristy Cambron's The Butterfly and the Violin. Romantic Times had this to say: "Alternating points of view skillfully blend contemporary and historical fiction in this debut novel that is almost impossible to put down. Well-researched yet heartbreaking. . . ."

Kristy is celebrating the release of the first book in her three-book series, A Hidden Masterpiece, with a fun Kindle Fire giveaway and meeting her readers during an August 7th Facebook author chat party.


butterflyviolin-400-click

 One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 7th. Winner will be announced at The Butterfly and the Violin Author Chat Party. Kristy will be connecting with readers and answering questions, sharing some of the fascinating research behind the book, hosting a fun book chat, and giving away some GREAT prizes. She will also be giving an exclusive look at the next book in the series, A Sparrow in Terezin!

So grab your copy of The Butterfly and the Violin and join Kristy on the evening of August 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 7th!



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



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cover Candy: Waiting On 2015

I've been searching through GoodReads lately and so many fantastic books have been listed for 2015...I know we are still 5-ish months away, but oh, my goodness! There are some fantastic covers and stories coming our way!! I wanted to share a few that I've been eying, so instead of the usual waiting on Wednesday, here is waiting on 2015.


Title: Spy of Richmond
Author: Jocelyn Green
Publisher: River North
Expected Publication Date: March 1st, 2015
Synopsis: 
Trust None. Risk all.

Richmond, Virginia, 1863. Compelled to atone for the sins of her slaveholding father, Union loyalist Sophie Kent risks everything to help end the war from within the Confederate capital and abolish slavery forever. But she can't do it alone.

Former slave Bella Jamison sacrifices her freedom to come to Richmond, where her Union soldier husband is imprisoned, and her twin sister still lives in bondage in Sophie's home. Though it may cost them their lives, they work with Sophie to betray Rebel authorities. Harrison Caldwell, a Northern freelance journalist who escorts Bella to Richmond, infiltrates the War Department as a clerk-but is conscripted to defend the city's fortifications.

As Sophie's spy network grows, she walks a tightrope of deception, using her father's position as newspaper editor and a suitor's position in the ordnance bureau for the advantage of the Union. One misstep could land her in prison, or worse. Suspicion hounds her until she barely even trusts herself. When her espionage endangers the people she loves, she makes a life-and-death gamble.

Will she follow her convictions even though it costs her everything-and everyone-she holds dear?
Title: Return to Exile
Author: Lynne Gentry
Publisher: Howard Books
Expected Publication Date: January 6th, 2015
Synopsis:
A twenty-first-century doctor travels back in time to third-century Carthage to rescue her husband, but the arrival of a deadly epidemic forces her to make an impossible choice in this fast-paced second novel in The Carthage Chronicles series. 

Dr. Lisbeth Hastings salvaged two things from her accidental trip to the third century: her mother's stethoscope and her child. Making a life for her daughter Maggie back in the present is difficult, but returning to ancient Carthage is impossible. However, when Lisbeth learns her husband is slated to die a martyr's death, she must find a way around the impossible to save him. 


Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He's lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. When Ruth, an old friend, proposes he marry her to restore his position and protect his estate, the disgraced nobleman accepts. But when Cyprian's true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church. 


As Lisbeth and Cyprian reunite to battle a new epidemic and save the oppressed community of Christians, the chasm between the two of them seems too wide to bridge. But when Maggie contracts typhoid, Lisbeth must choose: stay and save the man she loves, or return home and save her daughter? 


Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this incredibly compelling adventure of star-crossed lovers will keep you engrossed with every turn of the page.
 Title: Rise of the Fallen
Author: Chuck Black
Publisher: Multnamah Books
Expected Publication Date: February 17th, 2015
 Title: Remember the Lilies
Author: Liz Tolsma
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Expected Publication Date: February 2015
Synopsis:
Irene and Rand come from very different walks of life. Will they find common ground in their fight to survive?

Irene has grown up in the jungle as a missionary with her Aunt Anita, but now she and countless others are imprisoned by Japanese soldiers at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines. Irene and her aunt are safe there, and she keeps busy with her duty of delivering censored messages to the camp’s prisoners, but like everyone else, she prays for the war to end and for her freedom. Rand is a wealthy, womanizing American, whose attempted escape from the internment camp has put himself and others in danger. When Rand and Irene’s Aunt Anita meet one another in the hospital, Irene learns more of his story and her heart is determined to save his family. But the danger outside the walls of the hospital worsens every day, and life in this exotic place is anything but luxurious. Can Irene find Rand’s family before they disappear forever? And can a humble missionary woman and an arrogant man find common ground in the face of their biggest fears?
Title: A Sparrow in Terezin
Author: Kristy Cambron
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Expected Publication Date: April 2015
Synopsis:
Two women, one in the present day and one in 1942, each hope for a brighter future. But they'll both have to battle through their darkest days to reach it.

"Today. "With the grand opening of her new gallery and a fairytale wedding months away, Sera James appears to have a charmed life. But in an instant, the prospect of a devastating legal battle surrounding her fiance threatens to tear her dreams apart. Sera and William rush to marry and are thrust into a world of doubt and fear as they defend charges that could separate them for life.

"June 1942. "After surviving the Blitz bombings that left many Londoners with shattered lives, Kaja Makovsky prayed for the war to end so she could return home to Prague. But despite the horrors of war, the gifted journalist never expected to see a headline screaming the extermination of Jews in work camps. Half-Jewish with her family in danger, Kaja has no choice but to risk everything to get her family out of Prague. But with the clutches of evil all around, her escape plan crumbles into deportation, and Kaja finds herself in a new reality as the art teacher to the children of Terezin.

Bound by a story of hope and the survival of one little girl, both Sera and Kaja will fight to protect all they hold dear.
Title: Steadfast Heart
Author: Tracie Peterson
Publisher: Bethany House
Expected Publication Date: January 6th, 2015
Synopsis:
Lenore Fulcher isn't pretentious despite her spoiled upbringing. Her deepest desire at the age of twenty is to find true love. However, her father believes she's wasted enough time searching for a suitable husband, and he wants to marry her off to one of his business partners--thirty-seven-year-old James Rybus. But the idea of marriage to a man so much older is out of the question for Lenore.

Kolbein Booth, a lawyer from Chicago, arrives in Seattle looking for his headstrong sister who he believes may have answered an advertisement for mail-order brides. Sick with worry, he storms the Madison Bridal School, demanding to see his sister, only to learn she isn't there. But Lenore Fulcher is, and something about her captures his attention.

Is this the man Lenore has been searching for? She may not have long to find out...
 Title: Dauntless
Author: Dina Sleiman
Publisher: Bethany House
Expected Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Synopsis: 
Though once a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village. Dubbed "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest," her band of followers soon become enemies of the throne when they hijack ill-gotten gold meant for the king.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, will he choose fame or love?

Title: Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor
Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Howard
Expected Publication Date: May 5th, 2015
Synopsis:
When Heather Toulson returns to her parent's cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.

Libby, a free spirit who can't be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver's death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family's cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She's mourning her father'ss passing but can't let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family's belongings left behind in the cottage. As Heather digs, she finds a mysterious journal that belonged to a woman she never knew and it contains clues that lead to the truth about a mysterious drowning decades ago. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family's history.

Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways.

Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.


Title: The Last Queen of India
Author: Michelle Moran
Publisher: Quercus
Expected Publication Date: April 2nd, 2015
Synopsis:
When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is not even a country, but a collection of kingdoms on the subcontinent. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi's all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior, The Last Queen of India traces the astonishing tale of a fearless ruler making her way in a world dominated by men. In the tradition of her bestselling novel Nefertiti, which Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, called “a heroic story with a very human heart,” Michelle Moran once again brings a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction to rich, vibrant life.
Title: Sabotaged
Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House
Expected Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015
Synopsis:
Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now paired together on Yancey's search-and-rescue canine unit, they begin to put aside old arguments as they come to see each other in a different light. Then a call comes in from the Iditarod that will push them to their limits.

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing. Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. In order to save her, the man must use his knowledge as a mechanical engineer to do the kidnapper's bidding or she will die. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life, but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.
Title: After a Fashion
Author: Jen Turano
Publisher: Bethany House
Expected Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Synopsis:
After years of working in a millinery shop, Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day when she'll open up her own shop and sell re-fashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. When a delivery errand goes sadly awry, her job--and her chance at saving enough for her shop--is at stake all due to a rather unfortunate misunderstanding with a customer.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw enjoys a certain position in society, but his real aim is to follow in the footsteps of men like Cornelius Vanderbilt. On the verge of his biggest business deal yet, he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and respectably married. As matters stand, Oliver's ex not-quite-fiance recently became unhinged and lost a poor shop girl her job. Oliver feels bad for the hapless Harriet and, hoping to kill two birds with one stone, asks for her help in making a good impression in his business deal.

Harriet dives into the circles of high society head first, only to find that her love of fashion can't make her fashionable. She'll never truly fit into Oliver's world, but just as she's ready to call off the fake engagement, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.
Title: Price of Privilege
Author: Jessica Dotta
Publisher: Tyndale
Expected Publication: January 2015
Synopsis:
Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he’d kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.

Just when Julia thinks she’s managed to untangle herself from Macy’s clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy’s lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson’s daughter—and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.

Though Julia knows Macy’s version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet.




How fantastic do these books look and sound?! We're not even out of 2014 and 2015 is shaping up to be a beautiful year of books!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Own the Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week features a book related topic that gives you the opportunity to spotlight your Top Ten.

Topic:
Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

Goodness, I know the top 5 of who I own the most of. I started to read those authors when I was a teenager...so back in the 90's.  I need to go count the other ones to add to the list. Should be fun to see. 

It's safe to say that when I find an author I like/love, I will buy all of their books if I can.

I think I've read almost every book he has ever written and own almost all of them.

She was one of the first authors I read when I started reading Christian Historical Fiction. I have almost all of them.

She was the first author I read in Christian Fiction and just loved the stories...again I think I own almost, if not all of her books.

 Like with Janette Oke and Tracie Peterson, I started reading Lori's books when got into the genre.

 Lori Wick was another of the authors I started following when I was younger and looked forward to her books.

I own all of her books to date. Can't wait for her next in the series!

All of them again. :-) Love them! And I just discovered her last year.

I just discovered Lisa's books last year as well and have just dove into them.

I've only read three of her books, but I own a few more waiting to be read. I really enjoyed her writing.

With each book 800+- 1,000+ pages, I feel like I own even more of her books they I do.

With over half of my library in storage, I can't count all of my books to add more authors. I know there are a few more authors I own with quite a few books, but my mind is not wanting to recall them right now.


Who are your Top Ten Authors?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot

Title: Prelude for a Lord
Author: Camille Elliot
Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0-310-32035-7
Publication Date: August 5th, 2014

Synopsis:
An awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart? 

 Bath, England---1810 At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal.

 But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick. Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin.

He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul. Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .
Review:
I will say, I haven't read a whole lot of regency set stories, but the few I have read have been very enjoyable. Prelude to a Lord was a little different then most of the regency era books I've read in that it was a little lighter on the protocol of the time and I loved that! This story focused on friendship. Friendship of Lord Dommick and his buddies Ian and Raven, Dommick and Alethea, and of Aletha and her half sister Lucy. I loved all each of these relationships played out and how strong each of these friendships were, or what they became.

Alethea was also a unique heroine to the story, in the best way. She had many things going against her in life, but that didn't stop her in trying to reach for her goals. Alethea wasn't a great beauty, she was a spinster to society at her age, and she played the violin, a very masculine instrument. Despite the rumors that floated around her and the harsh criticism she suffered from her dead father and brother, she pursued her passion for music and held her head up high and didn't let the rumors get to her. She actually used the rumor mill to her advantage.

Lord Dommick was an interesting character to get to know. He seemed brooding at first, but as you see who he is and the past he has lived, you start to understand why he is the way he is and you come to appreciate why he is so protective of his family and of his friends. And his friends are fantastic! The humor and the jabs amongst them reminds you that of brothers.

I also enjoyed how this story focuses on a mystery that was full of music. It was a wonderful background for the characters to connect on. Even though each have their own backgrounds, it is nice to see them all have such a dominant part of their lives to bring them together and grow their relationships.

The mystery was fun to follow and it was hard to figure out where it was leading. I was very intrigued to see where it led to. However, as the story was coming to a close, I was worried there wouldn't be enough pages left to close it out, but there was...I was kind of sad about that though. I was hoping there might be a cliffhanger and allow us to stick with these characters just a little longer. I enjoyed them!

Too Read!
5 out of 5

About the Author:
Camy writes Christian romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance under her pen name, Camille Elliot. She grew up in Hawaii but now lives in northern California with her engineer husband and rambunctious dog. She graduated from Stanford University in psychology with a focus on biology, and for nine years she worked as a biologist researcher. Then God guided her path in a completely different direction and now she's writing full time, using her original psychology degree as she creates the characters in her novels. In her free time, she's a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of her church's Sunday worship teams. She also loves to knit, spin wool into yarn, and is training to (very slowly) run a marathon. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ to read free short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.


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

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (54)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Each week offers the opportunity to spotlight the books you have gotten this past week. They can be the books you received for review, bought, borrowed, or won.


Review:
A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson (Revell)
Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot (BookLook)


Bought:
 Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot


I've been doing more reading then acquiring of books lately. It's been fun making room for these new books. :-)

How was your book week?

Friday, July 25, 2014

In the Field of Grace

Title: In the Field of Grace
Author: Tessa Afshar
Publisher: River North
Pages: 283
ISBN: 978-0-8024-1097-9
Publication Date: July 1st, 2014

Synopsis:
Love resurrected from lifeless dreams happens in the arms of a loving God.

Without wealth or family, the widow Ruth left her people and followed Naomi, her beloved Hebrew mother-in-law, to rebuild Naomi's home in Israel. Provisions gone and starvation at the door, Ruth used all that she had left-a strong back and a willing heart-to gather grain in a field, abandoned after the harvest.

Tormented by others, Ruth is shocked to find the owner of the field watching her. Talking to her. Bringing food to her and Naomi. Boaz tells himself his kindness toward Ruth is repayment for the love she has shown to his cousin Naomi. But his heart knows better.
Review:
Tessa Afshar has a wonderful gift of story telling. She brings the past alive in a such a new and refreshing way. I discovered her books last year when I read Harvest of Rubies and Harvest of Gold.The detail she gives to the characters and surroundings is gorgeous. The writing style flows so smoothly that you can sit down to read a couple of chapters to find out you read two-thirds of the story in one sitting.

When I found out that Tessa was writing a story on Ruth, I might have done a bit of a happy dance. I love the story of Ruth. It has come to mean so much more to me now as I've gotten older. The story of Ruth isn't a long story, but is such a powerful story of a quiet strength and firm belief in God. I couldn't wait to see how Tessa would bring these characters to life.

I was not disappointed.

The humility of Ruth was beautiful and her dedication to Naomi, what a love between this mother-in-law and daughter. There were struggles that these characters faced that allowed these well known people from the Bible to come alive in tough circumstances, it gave it a depth and realistic feel, but did not take away from the the story, it enhanced it. The sorrow Naomi goes through with the loss of her sons and the grief that hangs with her, changing her sweet spirit to that of despair was sorrowful to see, but it also showed how God's love is always present, even in the darkest of times and that there are reasons for these dark times.

The story between Ruth and Boaz played out in such a way it capture you in their quietness. Both are humble people, dedicated to helping. They are not flashy and this story captured it perfectly. It draws you in and makes you wish there were more Boaz's in the world. Oh, how I wish there were more!

The story follows that of the account of Ruth from the Bible and it weaves in the well known verses. I loved that. I also enjoyed the connections (yes, fictionalized) to that of other well known people in the Bible. I always wondered how the lineage played out and if there were interactions, and it was fun to see an idea of it here.

In the Field of Grace is just a beautiful story!

Too Read!
5 out of 5


Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Well

Title: The Well
Author: Stephanie Landsem
Publisher: Howard
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-1-4516-8885-6
Publication Date: June 4th, 2013

Synopsis: 
Could he be the One we’ve been waiting for?

For the women of the Samaritan village of Sychar, the well is a place of blessing—the place where they gather to draw their water and share their lives—but not for Mara. Shunned for the many sins of her mother, Nava, Mara struggles against the constant threats of starvation or exile.

Mara and Nava’s lives are forever changed with the arrival of two men: Shem, a mysterious young man from Caesarea, and Jesus, a Jewish teacher. Nava is transformed by Jesus, but his teachings come too late and she is stoned by the unforgiving villagers. Desperate to save her dying mother, Mara and Shem embark on a journey to seek Jesus’ help—a journey that brings unexpected love and unimaginable heartbreak.
Review:
I accidentally started reading this series out of order...but thankfully, it works! I read The Thief  earlier this year part of a blog tour. My goodness! What an amazingly gripping story. I knew I had to go back and read the first book when I had time.

The Well was a story that is just beautifully written and has such an emotional depth to it. You ached and hurt for these characters. And you got angry for them as well. There is a strong emotional pull that keeps you reading. I finished this book in a few hours. It was hard to set down.

I have heard the story about the women at the well many times in church. I've heard different sermons and teachings on it. It's always been about Jesus' perspective of it or the social perspective of it. Here, we see it from the woman's standpoint and in a very realistic way. We get to see an idea of who this woman is. What her life was like and if she had family, other then her five husbands and the one who wasn't her husband as it is pointed out in scripture.

Neva was once beautiful. She was married and happy, but before she gave birth, her husband died. In her suffering she named her daughter Mara, for bitterness and sorrow. From there, Neva's life took a turn down a dark road. When we are introduced to Mara, she is a young woman, caring for her depressed mother and her disabled brother. Mara at a young age knows the sins her mother is committing will harm her family in some form or fashion and Mara suffers the abuse of the townspeople since her mother rarely leaves their house.

Mara is a strong girl. She faces torment and harassment, but she does her best to hold her head high. She fights an internal struggle over the feelings of her mother and of herself as well, but when Jesus visits the town and she hears him speak after her mother is healed at the well, Mara gains a new hope. You can't help but root for her, to help her along on her journey.

This story took a few twists I was not expecting. The ending left me stunned! I had to pick my jaw off of the ground with the turn around of events. However, it all fit together like the perfect puzzle leaving you breathless and wanting more! My goodness! It ended to soon.

From beginning to end, this story wrapped you up in an emotionally filled story, that was also historically accurate. There is brutality in this story, I will say, but for this time, it is how it was. It gave it such a realistic feel. Some of this type of brutality is still around today, sadly. This story, no matter the year, is just as important as it was in Biblical times.

I can not wait to read the third book coming out next year in The Living Waters Series, The Tomb.

Too Read!
5 out of 5


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Storm Siren

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each week offers the oppurtunity to spotlight an up-and-coming release you are excited about.

Waiting On:
Title: Storm Siren
Author: Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: August 19th, 2014

Synopsis: 
From GoodReads
" I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you. "

In a world at war, a slave girl s lethal curse could become one kingdom s weapon of salvation. If the curse and the girl can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth meaning, she shouldn't even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court adviser and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn t want to be the weapon they ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, "Storm Siren" is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.
Why I'm Waiting:
I've been hearing some great things about this book. And the cover is just gorgeous! I'm interested to see how this story will play out.


What are you waiting on?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Who I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week offers a fun book related topic that allows you to spotlight your Top Ten.

Topic:
Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

I will be honest and say, that I have wondered about what skills I would like to have from characters in a survival type circumstance. This one is better, I can have the actual characters there with me!

1. Katniss Everdeen 
(The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
The girl can hunt like no tomorrow.
2. Hermione Granger 
 (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)
She is smart and would probably know how to survive from having read a book about it, plus she is great at magic and could get us off the island in a heartbeat.
3. James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser 
 (Outlander by Diana Gaboldon)
He is a Scottish Highlander....he can do anything! Cook, sew, fight, hunt...whatever.
4. Brady Stoner 
(Austin/Stoner Files by Stephen Bly)
He is a cowboy with a great sense of humor. He also has a great talent with animals.
5. Alexander Bainbridge 
(Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden)
He knows about the sea from sailing so long, so he could navigate off the island if need be.
6. Charlotte Waverly 
 (Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green)
She was a fantastic nurse that cared about getting people well.
7. Red Shirt 
(Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz)
He can live off the land. He can hunt and scout and if need be fight.

I could only think as far as seven today. If I had continued, I think the characters would have started to repeat!

Who are your ten you would want with you?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chateau of Secrets

Title: Chateau of Secrets
Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Howard
Pages: 400
ISBN: 978-4767-4611-1
Publication Date: May 13th, 2014

Synopsis:
A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family’s abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past.

Gisèle Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family’s medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler’s army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France.

But when German soldiers take over the family’s château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend’s baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child.

A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Sauver, Gisèle’s granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army. Riley wants to research Chloe’s family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is floored—her family isn’t Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn’t know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover…

With emotion and intrigue, Melanie Dobson brings World War II France to life in this beautiful novel about war, family, sacrifice, and the secrets of the past.
Review: 
I was introduced to Melanie Dobson's books last year during a blog tour and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her story. She has a wonderful writing story that just flows and brings you right on into the book.

I was eagerly anticipating Chateau of Secrets from the moment I read the synopsis. I've really gotten into to WW2 era stories, so to have that mixed with a mystery and the granddaughter of our WW2 heroine has to uncover had me sold. I loved the two perspectives of the story and how well they played out together. Gisele played out like a normal novel did in the second person, while Chloe's played out in the first. Each gave a definition to their part in history.

I loved the setting. Can you ever go wrong with France as your background? No!

Gisele and Chloe each faced struggles, very different, but hard struggles to each of them. Their connection not only by family, but by the ancestral home in France. Gisele lived there most of her life till after the war and fled to America, then Chloe visits as an adult at the request of her parents. Even though you think you leave your former life behind, it doesn't always stay hidden.

I enjoyed reading about Chloe, she had to make tough decisions and face public ridicule, but she pushes forward and refuses to give into pressure. She takes a stand for herself and was a good lead in this story. Her story is that of one lived daily today by many women who give in and live a miserable life, but Chloe refuses to budge on what she desires in life.

Gisele was another strong woman lead. She had to face the Nazis as they over took her home and made it headquarters, all while protecting those around her with a Jewish background and the French resistance. She had to walk a fine line that ended up being harder then imagined, but she was able to survive with the help of someone she never could have imagined, nor how it would shape her family.

The secrets that are buried in Gisele and Chloe's family was fun and interesting to uncover. The story took several twists and turns I didn't see coming. I love when that happens!

Too Read!
5 out of 5

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (53)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tanga's Reviews. Each week offers the opportunity to spotlight the books you got this past week. They can be the books you received for review, bought, borrowed, or won.


I didn't think I would have had anything to post this week. However, a last minute run to my favorite book store fixed that. I wandered amongst the books and found a new release I was interested in and then I meandered to the bargain section...oh, how I love bargain book shopping!

Bought: 
 Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Bray
Once Upon a Winter's Heart by Melody Carson
Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White
Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck



How was your book week?


Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Getting Life: An Innocent Man's 25-Year Journey From Prison to Peace by Michael Morton

Title: Getting Life: An Innocent Man's 25-Year Journey From Prison to Peace
Author: Michael Morton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-1-4767-5682-0
Publication Date: July 8th, 2014

Synopsis: 
He spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He lost his wife, his son, and his freedom. This is the story of how Michael Morton finally got justice and a second chance at life.

On August 13, 1986, just one day after his thirty-second birthday, Michael Morton went to work at his usual time. By the end of the day, his wife Christine had been savagely bludgeoned to death in the couple's bed;and the Williamson County Sheriff's office in Texas wasted no time in pinning her murder on Michael, despite an absolute lack of physical evidence. Michael was swiftly sentenced to life in prison for a crime he had not committed.

He mourned his wife from a prison cell. He lost all contact with their son. Life, as he knew it, was over.

It would take twenty-five years and thousands of hours of effort on the part of Michael's lawyers, including the team at the New York-based Innocence Project before DNA evidence was brought to light that would ultimately set Michael free. The evidence had been collected only days after the murder, but was never investigated.

Drawing on his recollections, court transcripts, and more than one thousand pages of personal journals he wrote in prison, Michael recounts the hidden police reports about an unidentified van parked near his house that were never pursued; the treasure trove of evidence, including a bandana with the killer's DNA on it, that was never introduced in court; the call from a neighboring county reporting the attempted use of his wife's credit card (a message that was received, recorded, and never returned by local police); and ultimately, how he battled his way through the darkness to become a free man once again.

Getting Life is an extraordinary story of unfathomable tragedy, grave injustice, and the strength and courage it takes to find forgiveness.
Review:
Having been through many criminal justice/ criminal forensic classes, I was very interested in learning more about the Innocence Project. My professors spoke of this program several times and the work that goes on to free these innocent people who were abused by the system. One of my professors wanted to have someone come and speak to the class, but it didn't work out. When I was offered the opportunity to review Michael Morton's story, I was eager to read it.

The way that this memoir is written is like Michael is sitting right there telling you his story and the ghastly struggle with a corrupt police and court system while mourning his wife.

As I read each chapter that focused on the the investigation of his wife, Chris, I was shocked and sickened to how he was treated and how the ineptness of this sheriff and deputy handled things. Chris' brother John was a better investigator and had the skills to find the proper evidence. He found three important pieces and kept them from being contaminated like someone from CSU should have done. I mean my goodness, the system in the 80's wasn't as technologically advanced as it is today, with DNA, but it was there, things would have been found in the system.

As his story progressed to his time in prison, you got to see how prison can change a person. It doesn't matter if your are guilty or innocent, it's a tough place to live in. Michael showed such strength though. He kept fighting, he never gave up, even when it seemed he hit rock bottom in those years, he still pushed forward.

When the Innocence Project got involved and help fight for Michael, the battle they faced from this county was infuriating, but their diligence in proving that he was innocent was amazing.

I will say, I don't cry much, but there were a couple of parts that really got to me in his story. There were tears of joy for him and tears of sorrow for his son Eric. The joyful tears where after a hard fought battle, Michael got out of prison. What an amazing day that was! The tears of sorrow was when another trial came along and Michael's son Eric finally saw what all happened to his mother Chris.

I will say, what Micheal said in this book is true. When some one is killed their body is now a crime scene and they are also now an exhibit for court. In my studies, I've been taught to keep emotions separate when viewing these things, but in the story, seeing how it affects the family, it really got to me and made me hurt for them.

This was a phenomenal account. I believe if some one is interested in going into the police work or criminal law, they should read this. This is a story that will stick with a person.

I will give a small warning to those out there, that this book does talk about death and a crime scene and gives descriptions of it and it speaks of the crime scene photos and people's reactions to them. There is a little language, not much, it was used for demonstration purposes only and in testimony for court.

Too Read!
5 out of 5

About the Author:
Michael Morton was born in Texas, grew up in California, and moved back to Texas in high school. While living in Austin, Michael was convicted of murdering his wife—a crime he did not commit. He spent almost twenty-five years in prison before being exonerated through the efforts of the Innocence Project, pro bono lawyer John Raley, and advances in DNA technology. Michael is now remarried and lives on a lake in rural East Texas, relishing and appreciating what others may take for granted. - See more at: http://authors.simonandschuster.biz/Michael-Morton/427017323#sthash.B3TkSHoD.dpuf
Michael Morton was born in Texas, grew up in California, and moved back to Texas in high school. While living in Austin, Michael was convicted of murdering his wife—a crime he did not commit. He spent almost twenty-five years in prison before being exonerated through the efforts of the Innocence Project, pro bono lawyer John Raley, and advances in DNA technology. Michael is now remarried and lives on a lake in rural East Texas, relishing and appreciating what others may take for granted.



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