Thanks to Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for review!
I waited a month until after the release to start the book, because I knew I would read it...moreThanks to Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for review!
I waited a month until after the release to start the book, because I knew I would read it quickly and then wait for AGES for Tamera’s next book. I wanted to start it before bed one night, but knew that I’d end up staying up all night to read it and tried to exercise self-preservation. I started it the next day, read about a third to half of it, and then I stayed up all night that night to finish it.
That’s how good her books are. You desperately want to make them last, but you can’t. Then you hate yourself for it because then you have to wait another year for the next one!
I think the author has really hit a new level with the Belmont novels. I love how Adelicia is in the background with her hand in everything because she is a fascinating woman and historical figure, but the young women who have to deal with her are great characters totally created by the author’s imagination. The settings are so well-drawn and the history of Nashville’s restoration after the war is an interesting topic.
I’m not totally satisfied with the decisions that the main characters made in the end in this one, but their personal growth throughout the book was rewarding. Both Eleanor and Marcus fought against who they were meant to be and who they thought they were meant to be. It was an interesting story about how the situation and society you’re born into don’t always match up with the dreams in your heart, and how you have to mold those dreams and ideas to work with your given scenario as well as stretching the boundaries of society to make your goals happen. It was a most enjoyable story, and I would recommend it as highly as any other book by this author.(less)
Thanks to Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for review.
I was super excited about this book because it was a chance to follow up with characters fr...moreThanks to Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for review.
I was super excited about this book because it was a chance to follow up with characters from a previous novel called Once Upon a Prince. If you haven’t read Once Upon a Prince, this book won’t be remotely worth it, so read that one first.
What I really loved about this continuation of the story was the chance to learn about what the characters dealt with after the proposal. That’s usually where books end. I’m currently dealing with all of the logistics of planning a wedding and merging two lives, and it’s not a simple matter. Nate and Susannah had a unique situation, and I love that Rachel dealt with these matters seriously.
I read some reviews that thought Susannah was stupid for hesitating on relinquishing her entire life to be with Nate, because ‘true love” will cause you to give up everything without a second thought. I thought that was ridiculous. Susannah had to give up far more than just her family and her roots to take on the duties of a royal of a new nation. I think any woman with any sense would have taken some time to consider the ramifications of what she had to take on.
This novella was one of my favorites, and a great mini-sequel to Once Upon a Prince. I’m thrilled that it worked out for Rachel to include this in the Year of Weddings! (less)
I received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Christian publishers love to compile short stories from their authors....moreI received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Christian publishers love to compile short stories from their authors. There are tons of them, usually including 3-4 stories. This one was different, because there were 9 stories in all, and each story was shorter than what they usually are in these compilations.
I liked that the timespan was really broad, and I loved the inclusion of Scottish stories, because that's an overlooked setting. I also liked this format because I was able to read stories from so many different authors that I hadn't heard of (or maybe just didn't remember). It was fun to be able to read each story in one sitting, and due to the length, the plots offered quick rewards.
Yet the bonuses can also be the drawbacks. Since each story was so short, the turnaround in plot was often unbelievable. Additionally, it felt like there wasn't enough time spent getting to know most of the characters and understand their motivations. By necessity, each author had to quickly tell what quirks and traits made up the character and what situations they were facing, rather than provide the more nuanced approach that a longer book allows.
I wasn't crazy about the first story, but I'm glad that I stuck with it, because by and large, they got better. I would caution any potential readers to be prepared for not-very-realistic happily ever afters, but sometimes we just need a good, happy love story.
Note: This is a pretty solid 3.5 star for me, I just didn't love it enough to push it up to a 4.(less)
I got a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
I liked this book pretty well while I was reading it. It was a smooth, easy rea...moreI got a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
I liked this book pretty well while I was reading it. It was a smooth, easy read, and the pace was good. The biggest problem is that when I started writing this review, it took me a while to remember details from the book. It's not extremely memorable, but the series continues to be a good read.
This story was different from the first two in that the couple was already established, so we didn't see how they met. Instead, it was a runaway bride scenario. I wasn't completely convinced about the reasons she ran. I mean, the author made her panic clear enough during the scene. But I felt like the reasons behind her panic weren't really that plausible. She attributed her family's problems to her own relationship, and doomed her marriage before it started. It seemed like a huge leap to make five minutes before her wedding, after not even talking it out with Marcus.
Marcus was such a trooper through the whole thing, though, and he seemed like a great guy. Honestly, he seemed a little too good for Allie, but I did appreciate his patience and working through their problems. His mom was a great person too, and I loved how she reached out to Allie with love and no judgment, and that her action was the catalyst for Allie being able to put some things behind her. It was a nice, unexpected way to handle it. I also liked how Allie had to face some hard, serious issues and be open and honest with Marcus about them. It was a great example of how openness and vulnerability are necessary when taking a big step like marriage.(less)
I got a free copy in exchange for a review from Netgalley!
This book was charming. Madeleine and Arthur had old names, and their style of communication...moreI got a free copy in exchange for a review from Netgalley!
This book was charming. Madeleine and Arthur had old names, and their style of communication and love of literature fit the old souls that the author was trying to portray. Normally, I think mixed signals and mixups can get really frustrating for a reader, but this one was handled almost perfectly. It was believable, and the short format of the novella meant that it wasn't dragged out longer than you wanted to read it.
I liked how both characters were a little bit miserable but pretended that their lives were fine. I didn't like Madeleine's reasons for moving from NYC, but I realize there had to be a plausible reason for her to be in proximity to Arthur, so I can forgive it. I like that although there was a lot of history in Arthur's house and reasons for him to want to stay there, it felt like the couple had open possibilities for their future. I could see them going back to New York or traveling the world, and I didn't think they would ever be stuck in one place for too long. I loved that feeling of expectation.
I can't remember anything about the writing that stood out in particular, either good or bad. So I would say that while it didn't stand out in a big way, it was a cute story to read and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I didn't love it quite as much as December Bride, but it is one of the best stories of this series through May.(less)
I didn't know this was the second book in a series, but the author did a good job giving enough backstory that I...moreThanks to Netgalley for the free copy!
I didn't know this was the second book in a series, but the author did a good job giving enough backstory that I didn't feel like I missed much.
At first, I didn't like Cate. She was really judgmental of Robyn, and as someone who is currently planning a wedding, it was kind of offensive. I understand that Robyn was going a little overboard, but there are a lot of details to take care of in a wedding, and there was nothing wrong about being excited about it. Cate was also on a high horse when she talked to people like Kim and Celeste, and even Jo-Jo, so that got old. About halfway through she softened some, and it became more bearable. By the end, she seemed to appreciate people for who they were and see good in them.
The plot was pretty far fetched, but there were enough interesting twists to keep me interested. It's a read that was lighthearted and fun enough not to keep you up at night, but with the requisite whodunit guessing. Although I'm not rushing out to buy them right now, I would be interested in reading the first and third books in the series. The third comes out in July, so you have some time to catch up!(less)
I absolutely love Zondervan’s idea of the Year of Weddings series. It's a great way to discover new authors, and it's fun when authors tie in characte...moreI absolutely love Zondervan’s idea of the Year of Weddings series. It's a great way to discover new authors, and it's fun when authors tie in characters from their own series. Let me just say – don’t start the series with this book. I’ve read through May, and this is by far the best. This book had everything I’m looking for – enjoyable characters that had room to grow (but weren’t annoying in the process), a fun plot and good motivations for the characters’ actions, a heroine that had dreams and goals beyond romance, and also…it was just darn cute. I read this just after Christmas, and it was the perfect timing because I felt like Christmas went by way too fast so I enjoyed the chance to extend the holiday just a little bit!
I loved Layla and Seth. Their interactions were fun and they way they fell in love seemed really organic. What really pleased me about the plot was that Layla was able to admit that the characters that had betrayed her in the past had either changed or weren’t great people to begin with. Even though she had to suffer through some things with a stiff upper lip, it felt like she had put an appropriate distance between the present and what had happened in her recent past. The things she had to get over were mostly deeply ingrained from her childhood, but she didn’t have such a chip on her shoulder that made it hard to feel for her.
Some people might not like how much of an opportunist Layla was, but I loved it. She took an uncomfortable situation and used it for her advancement. It was also really cute to watch how supportive Seth was of her, and how clueless she was about his feelings for her.
Okay, I’ll stop gushing – but seriously, it was just the cutest story. (less)
**spoiler alert** To be blunt - I did not like this book. I hate to say this, because Mary Connealy's Sophie's Daughters series is one of my FAVORITES...more**spoiler alert** To be blunt - I did not like this book. I hate to say this, because Mary Connealy's Sophie's Daughters series is one of my FAVORITES and you should buy it RIGHT NOW. I put off writing this review for a long time because it made me so sad, and because it took me a while to figure out exactly why I didn't like it. However, I realized that I didn't like any of the characters. Even the minor ones.
First off, our heroine. Glynna. She was really dumb. First, she marries a horrible man. Then marries another horrible man. I understand that women in that time period left way too much stuff up to the man, but to have no idea that you have no money at all? Right. Then she was abused for ages, albeit surrounded by people she could have asked for help. Then told her son that she would ask his permission before she married again. That actually might not have been a terrible idea, since her own choices weren't so smart, but her son was horrible.
I didn't buy that Glynna suddenly fell for Dare and trusted him. After everything she had been through, I can't imagine a woman in that situation falling so quickly for a good man. Especially since she had income. But was too dimwitted to figure out that she was a horrible cook and embarrassing herself.
Dare, actually, was flat out whiny. Wah, I'm not a doctor. Well, then work toward becoming one if you're so passionate about it. Even if he had to start back in grade school, he could have easily found some way to test out and complete his requirements quickly. Educational standards weren't that strict back then. I didn't like his big strutting speech to Paul about this is what it means to be a man.
The rest of the characters...Vince was too full of himself, and then you had Ruby who was just completely dense. I just can't imagine this great author that I loved writing a pack of characters so unlikable.
The mystery was interesting and fun, although I will say there's one character that should have stayed under suspicion for a lot longer because said character totally deserved it.
Anyway, while I love some of Mary's books, this one rubbed me the wrong way. She's a good author and the plot moved along well, so all of the elements were there- I just spent the entire time being mad at all the characters, and I can't recommend it.(less)
Okay, I'm going to start out with a gripe to get it out of the way - the title was REALLY stupid. It sounds like the heroine has a rebellious heart, w...moreOkay, I'm going to start out with a gripe to get it out of the way - the title was REALLY stupid. It sounds like the heroine has a rebellious heart, which is NOT an attractive quality. That makes her sound like a bratty teenager, which she was not. She questioned the system that was in place and decided she had to make her own choices, but I wouldn't consider her rebellious with the bad connotations of that word.
This book is set just before the American Revolution, which I find to be a fascinating time in history. Yes, it was technically a rebellion, but I still don't think it should have been in the title. I can’t say how accurate this book is involving particular historical details, but it surely is a fun read and a great setting for the story.
I thought that the characters were really fleshed out in this one. While their mistakes and insecurities felt a bit ridiculous, they were really true for the time period. It seems so archaic to think about marrying up and into the right family, or not marrying below your “station” or not being able to get an education as a woman, but these things were extremely prevalent during the time. I think that the author did a good job of making them a reality, but not bogging down the story with too much whining about it (okay, maybe too much whining on Ben’s part, but he came around).
Susanna’s struggle with obeying the laws of the government that she’s supposed to serve versus obeying God’s commandment to love others was compelling. I liked how she had to take some time to make sense of it, even while she saw the terrible things happening at the hand of the British soldiers. It was also interesting to watch her struggle through and against the religious constraints of the time, such as her disgust at the idea of almost drowning a woman who had become pregnant through rape.
I would absolutely recommend this book to someone who enjoys reading about this time period, as I do! It was an easy read, and a quick one because I kept wanting to go back to it and spend more time with the characters.(less)
Eyes Wide Open is marketed as YA fiction, which is fitting since the main characters are teenagers. Yet in the same way that Showdown involved young c...moreEyes Wide Open is marketed as YA fiction, which is fitting since the main characters are teenagers. Yet in the same way that Showdown involved young characters, it would appeal to someone who doesn’t normally read young adult, but who likes dark supernatural stories.
I’m a big Ted fan, so I was all in. I felt like the beginning gave us an interesting setup. With books like this you have to suspend some disbelief, but honestly, I didn’t have to suspend it much. I think that the idea of getting trapped in a psych ward when you’re not supposed to be there makes for an excellent plot. That’s TERRIFYING and it could happen so I was pretty creeped out by the whole thing. I really liked how Ted set up the process of how it all happened. The details and emotion of the scenes made them very real and believable.
Usually unreliable narrators don’t get much past me, but I honestly had no idea throughout the entire book if Austin and Christy were really Austin and Christy! It drove me crazy, but was also handled really masterfully. The story got bogged down a little bit just after the first half, and I kept pushing forward because I wanted to see what was really going on. I think that should have been cleaned up a little and some things made clearer near the end. Some of the motivations were unclear, and some of the POV switches didn’t make a lot of sense. However, it didn’t diminish the impact of the story too much.
I had a thought about halfway through that someone familiar with Ted’s works will understand: This feels like the Ted that wrote Showdown. That is a favorite of his works, and I was so excited to see that tone pop up again. Really enjoyed this one!(less)
I received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for a review.
I love Jen Turano's writing. It's clever and unexpected, and her c...moreI received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for a review.
I love Jen Turano's writing. It's clever and unexpected, and her characters are brimming with personality. I think that Felicia, the heroine in A Talent for Trouble, is probably my favorite so far. The story was executed well, and the themes were strong but not overbearing. I loved the theme of Felicia changing herself for a man. I've seen that happen so many times to girls and women in real life, so it feels like a timeless story, even in a historical setting. I would have actually liked a little more introspection on Felicia's part about it, but it was pretty powerful that she didn't put off the first steps to self-rediscovery.
I think the discussion of her ridiculous dresses and getting a new wardrobe as part of her rebirth was handled really well. Another funny point was that she had always wanted to be the preacher's wife, but didn't actually want to be the wife of a preacher and never thought about what that would require. How many things have we wanted in life without thinking about what they really entailed?
The love story between Felicia and Grayson wasn't that unique, but Grayson's story was pretty interesting. He wallowed a little too much in guilt and trying to punish himself, but his regrets gave depth to his character.
Now that I've read three books by Jen, I've decided that she's a clever, stable writer - but I would like to see more variety in her characters and plot. Her first book was fantastic, and her second would have been just as fantastic, but it felt too much like the first. The third was somewhat different, but not different enough. Standalone, each of her books would be fantastic. But as a series, they feel too alike. Of course, it would be much worse if they were all bad and alike, but if you feel like you've read it all before, it's harder to spend money on it. I'm super excited for A Match of Wits because Agatha and Zayne have always pretended there was nothing between them and I want to see that unfold, but I hope it will be as juicy as I expect and as unique as they deserve. Jen plans to write a new series with characters that are much lower class than the women in the Ladies of Distinction series, and I really hope shaking it up a little will be just the ticket.(less)
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for writing a review!
I remember reading a book several years ago called Dead as a Scone, and...moreI received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for writing a review!
I remember reading a book several years ago called Dead as a Scone, and finding out that there was such a thing as a "cozy mystery." I loved that book, but actually haven't read a cozy mystery since - until this one.
This book was really enjoyable. When you realize that a book is a certain genre (Christian, cozy mystery, etc), and you conform your expectations to that, it allows you to have fun with a book for what it is. It's not anything groundbreaking, but it is a fun read.
The pace moved along pretty well. When Drew and Nick hit snags in the investigation, the plot slowed enough to reflect their frustration, but not enough to bog the story down. The mystery got pretty obvious before it was revealed, but I didn't necessarily expect to be stumped.
The setting was really well drawn and fun. I felt like I was plopped right in the middle of Farthering Place and really enjoyed the rich details. I also liked the theme of following an investigation by the rules of an author that Nick and Drew looked up to, but then realizing that life doesn't always go according to plan. That could have actually been played up a little more, but the purpose was achieved.
The weakest point of the novel was the characterization. No one was really all that fascinating. Nick and Dennison were the closest, because they had a unique relationship to the Fartherings. However, they weren't utilized as much as they should have been because Drew and Madeline were at the forefront. Madeline wasn't a great heroine, and Drew wasn't a great hero. The romance wasn't all that interesting, either, because it seemed like they were drawn together through grief and opportunity.
While this book wasn't a masterful piece of writing by any means, it shouldn't be missed if you enjoy your cozy mysteries. I'm hoping that the next book in the series will be at least a little bit more of what this one tried to be.(less)
I received a copy of this book for free through Netgalley.
I'm going to be up front here - I loved this book. I'll try not to gush about it too much, a...moreI received a copy of this book for free through Netgalley.
I'm going to be up front here - I loved this book. I'll try not to gush about it too much, and I'll tell you the few things I didn't like, but I had a really good time with this one.
My problem with most Christian fiction, especially historicals, is that the plots are pretty boring. There's only one central conflict that's not enough to sustain an entire book. Not the case with this one.
The first thing I loved about this, though, was the setting. That's usually the least important story element for me, but this one was fascinating. I haven't read anything about the Great Chicago Fire, so all of this was new to me. Therefore, I can't vouch for Camden's historical accuracy, but even if it was totally made up, it was still really interesting. The themes of rebuilding and facing adversity and coming back stronger than before were strong throughout, and I liked that. I liked the mention of how people banded together and how good things came from the changes that people were able to make because they were starting fresh. For example, the streets had been low and always got muddy, so when they rebuilt, they simply raised the streets.
The characters were mostly pretty interesting. Mollie wasn't the most fascinating heroine, but she was spunky. I liked that she was an expert on the process of watchmaking and that she was carrying on as a leader after the death of her father. She wasn't spunky for the sake of trying to make the character sassy, but rather determined for the sake of survival and to help those she employed. She always had a heart for other people, and her efforts were, for the most part, unselfish. Zack had a giant chip on his shoulder, and it was fun seeing him shed that. It felt like he constantly bumbled things, and his attitude at any given time was the opposite of what it should have been. That stretched the tension between the characters nicely through the book.
Things I didn't like: a few plot points, but not the overall plot itself. For example, Mollie's determination to stay in their little tent city and not go back to stay with Zack and his parents - why? She was in an unsafe situation with people she cared for and valuable items. It didn't make sense and wasn't adequately explained. Also, it was a little weird that the workers had no desire to make clocks. I understand some level of stubbornness regarding change and the extra work required, but it seems like they were stubborn for the sole purpose of giving Mollie a headache.
Overall, though, the book was just enjoyable. It was interesting, and the plot had enough various issues pop up throughout the book to keep the momentum going. The writing was smooth, the transitions easy, and the author just made it seem like she did all of the work for you. I'd absolutely recommend it!(less)
I’m writing this review in exchange for receiving a free copy of this book through Netgalley!
This book, while okay, wasn't gripping. It's an easy, lig...moreI’m writing this review in exchange for receiving a free copy of this book through Netgalley!
This book, while okay, wasn't gripping. It's an easy, light read - which is often welcome. But I found myself wanting a little more, and didn't get it.
We have a heroine in a bad situation, realizing that she’s not really cut out to be a governess but can’t do anything else. She gets summarily canned, without a reference, but wait! She suddenly finds out that there’s a place for her to go out west. Using the last of her money, she plans to throw herself on the mercy of her late uncle’s business partner. But wait again! The business partner is also dead, and the store was inherited by a man who is very protective of his business interests and wants nothing to do with this nosy woman who lands herself on his doorstep.
You can probably write the ending without reading it. It’s a predictable story. Although Cox tries to give it a little extra spice by bringing in a murder mystery, the “twists” aren’t enough to distract from how downright boring the romance is. The heroine is hard to root for, as she’s not very nice. Neither is our hero. They’re both stubborn and prideful, and never really come to grips with that. Characters don’t have to be likable – many compelling stories are written about despicable people – but they do need to be interesting.
This story falls into a pit with countless other Christian historical romances. Stubborn man who knows everything pitted against a feisty female who knows much better than he does and demands that he see things her way in a generic dusty town. While I appreciate that the author tried to make things more interesting with the mystery aspect, I can’t say much more about it than the telling fact that I’ll probably soon completely forget what happened in the book.(less)
I am writing this review in exchange for receiving this book for free from Netgalley.
Witemeyer’s books are fast reads. They’re lighthearted and meant...moreI am writing this review in exchange for receiving this book for free from Netgalley.
Witemeyer’s books are fast reads. They’re lighthearted and meant as an easy way to pass the time. I enjoyed the previous book about the Archers, especially keeping in mind the fact that it’s lighter fare. However, lighter reads still need to be skillfully written – which includes compelling characters and a tight plot. I hate to say it, but those two elements were missing from this book.
First off, the characters were a bit too perfect. Crockett was handsome, a strong man of faith as a preacher, but he could still work hard on a ranch and oh look at that, he could also act as a quasi-doctor when needed. Outside temptations were no match from him – he could shove away the unwanted advances of a beautiful blonde without a second glance.
Joanna was also too perfect. She was a loving daughter, could feed a bunkhouse full of hungry workers, sew up a dress in no time flat, and paint with almost unmatched skill. She was insecure about her looks, but Crockett and other men thought she was beautiful.
The Archers were interesting in the first book, especially Travis, because Travis had his internal struggles over his ridiculous ties to his land. He had to bring down both physical and emotional walls that he had built up against the outside world. There were none of those internal struggles here. The only forces that the characters faced were outside ones, and they didn’t really have to grow and change. The only one that did was Joanna’s father, and that was really just a device to move the plot along.
Speaking of plot – there wasn’t much of one. Just the circling of Joanna and Crockett as they wanted to be with each other and the attraction and…it was all quite boring. The act of kidnapping and Crockett’s real position going to another candidate was interesting, but that wrapped up so quickly at the beginning that it didn’t really add much. Even if it had been drawn out, it was clear where the end was going to lead.
All in all, this book seemed too simple, too easy. Nothing about it was all that compelling, and I couldn’t recommend paying for it in good conscience.(less)