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)
Oddly enough, I actually liked this sequel better than the original Shopaholic book! Of course, I was annoyed that Becky didn't seem to understand tha...moreOddly enough, I actually liked this sequel better than the original Shopaholic book! Of course, I was annoyed that Becky didn't seem to understand that she was slipping back into old habits. I don't understand how she can pay attention to the tiniest details of certain things that she really cares about, but doesn't pick up on the sketchy people that are trying to get information from her. Suze is even more of an airhead than Becky is, unbelievably at times.
So, yes. The whole series is about crazy women that value material possessions above anything else and have never truly had to work for anything. But once you suspend reality and ignore this for the time being, it is absolutely hilarious. I love the way that Brits talk, and how the Americans just cracked up at her British humor. It's so true. I know that the English must think that Americans are idiots for being so amused, but it honestly just becomes hilarious. When Becky is gossiping with Luke's secretary, she said that, "We had quite a lovely natter." That's just precious, brilliant and hilarious all wrapped up into one.
The pacing of the plot was done extremely well. Before the end of this book, I wasn't quite convinced about Luke, but I was given hope that he had gotten his crap together. I also felt that Becky had finally been knocked on the head hard enough by reality to gain more of an understanding of her weaknesses.
Overall, the best part of the series continues to be Becky's voice. Even when I'm annoyed with her, I love and somewhat pity her enough to turn the page. I think that because I am too disciplined to enjoy a crazy shopping spree, joining Becky is an extremely guilty pleasure.(less)
This book completely went against all that I've been taught by the church my entire life, but that's a good thing. The church today is so limiting and...moreThis book completely went against all that I've been taught by the church my entire life, but that's a good thing. The church today is so limiting and as a result, Christians are unhappy when we actually should be the happiest people in the world because of the amazing gift we have been given! Unfortunately, too many denominations refuse the gift of grace and try to make it by on works. Joseph Prince unpacks Scripture in a way that makes it completely understandable and makes you realize that you have been given so much more than you actually thought. It's such an empowering book, and it definitely stepped on my toes a LOT but I loved it and it is exactly what I needed. Every Christian should read this book, no matter how long you've considered yourself "saved."(less)