I have to admit to feeling fairly disappointed with this somewhat predictable, really unsubtle spiritual warfare novel. Very pale shades of Peretti.
W...moreI have to admit to feeling fairly disappointed with this somewhat predictable, really unsubtle spiritual warfare novel. Very pale shades of Peretti.
Where Peretti grabs the reader and holds them with gripping stories and characters, The Devil's Game did not have that type of hold at all. The characters, including Satan, were very stereotypical and I did not feel any great sense of connection to them or their cliché-named town, Harmony.
Although unintentional, I'm sure, the strongest message communicated (without actually saying it) was "the devil made me do it," and that did not sit all that well with me. Again, the author may not have meant that to be the underlying message, but it was.
The conclusion came in a rush, with a fairly clichéd action climax. Then there was an epilogue, and that was it. All wrapped up neatly for Harmony, with a teaser of future adventures for the two pastors.
Having said all that, I didn't dislike The Devil's Game. Honest. I just expected more. More character development; more plot; more story. I would probably rate it 2.5 rather than 3, but it does deserve more than 2. It is a quick read that doesn't demand a great deal of the reader. Stories like this will always find a market with Christian readers hungry for the next This Present Darkness. It had potential, and I guess I can understand the many good ratings, but unlike Peretti's classics, The Devil's Game did not leave me breathless or longing for more. It actually made me want to dig out those old Peretti classics and re-read them instead.(less)
Very enjoyable visit to the real world of a teenager's life in Portland Oregon. The genuineness of this young girl's diary, with all her dramatic decl...moreVery enjoyable visit to the real world of a teenager's life in Portland Oregon. The genuineness of this young girl's diary, with all her dramatic declarations of love and misery, was delightful.(less)
Overall, "Hide and Seek" was and okay story. Not having read the previous "Sisterhood" books, I did understand the need to bring new readers up to spe...moreOverall, "Hide and Seek" was and okay story. Not having read the previous "Sisterhood" books, I did understand the need to bring new readers up to speed with this next stage of the series; however, the first half of the book was fairly boring.
"Hide and See" had the feeling of a pilot for a new television show. As with most pilots, they tend to be the weakest episode of the series because they need to focus mainly on setting things up with the characters, and as a consequence, give less attention to a specific story line. That was more or less how "Hide and Seek" played out, with the inclusion of another six "second string" members of the team at the end of the book.
Generally, I have to admit I was also a little surprised by the amount of bad language. For some reason, I didn't pick these books as being like that. I rolled with it, but it wasn't what I expected. I also felt as though the author was trying a little too hard to include that edge to some of her characters.
However, the biggest turn off for me, personally, was the inclusion of conversations between a dead person and two of the characters. That came out of left field, and I have to admit I rolled my eyes.
Most of the central characters were reasonably appealing, based on the "pilot-like" introductions to them all. For long time Sisterhood readers, I'm sure it would have been like meeting up with old friends. For new readers, not so much. The character of Annie was particularly irritating.
Having said all that, I probably will try the next book in the series at some point before making a definite decision on whether to keep reading or not. I didn't dislike "Hide and Seek", but it didn't ring any bells either.
Regardless of whether this is the true story of Sultana or an amalgamation of stories gathered during the author's time in Saudi, Princess is still an...moreRegardless of whether this is the true story of Sultana or an amalgamation of stories gathered during the author's time in Saudi, Princess is still an eye opening, engrossing and disturbing read. (less)
It's a novella, so obviously a lot needs to happen in a short space, but that made it feel a bit rushed. Enjoyed the start but started to lose interes...moreIt's a novella, so obviously a lot needs to happen in a short space, but that made it feel a bit rushed. Enjoyed the start but started to lose interest once the guilting started on Holly. The parents and the new romantic interest both played the guilt card, and that annoyed me. So celebrate Christmas a day late if you have too. (less)
Wonderful. I think I enjoyed this even a little more than Cheaper by the Dozen. So many wonderful stories from the life of this quite uplifting family...moreWonderful. I think I enjoyed this even a little more than Cheaper by the Dozen. So many wonderful stories from the life of this quite uplifting family. (less)
Hot off the digital presses, I couldn't wait to read this next instalment in the Carrington's series, and I was not disappointed.
When last we met Geo...moreHot off the digital presses, I couldn't wait to read this next instalment in the Carrington's series, and I was not disappointed.
When last we met Georgie and her friends (in Cupcakes at Carrington's and Me and Mr Carrington), life was looking pretty darn good--particularly for Georgie. Her finances we're under control, her relationship with her dad was restored, and best of all, love was blossoming with the ever so dreamy young CEO of Carrington's Department Store, Tom Carrington. Well, Christmas at Carrington's would have been a nice but pretty dull book if everything had stayed like that. But they don't, so get ready for another great read.
Imagine Georgie's shock when she sits down to see the pilot episode for the new Kelly Cooper undercover reality series, only to see her big bottom being shown on national television as she bops along to a Beyoncé song. Turns out that Carrington's is the new target for a reality make over, with the larger than life Kelly Cooper determined to bring the store into the 21st Century, and to make Georgie a reality star--whether she likes it or not.
It doesn't take long before reality clashes with faux reality leading to misunderstandings and misdirection. And lurking under the surface, a plot is afoot that could spell the end of Carrington's completely.
I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas at Carrington's. It was a delightful pre-Christmas present, and even included some Christmas recipes from Georgie's best friend, Sam, at the end of the book (including Georgie's favourite red velvet cupcake). The only downside is that now I have to try and be patient until the next book in the series is released. Write fast, please, Alexandra.(less)
This was a really fast read and very enjoyable. Truth Stained Lies is the first book in Terri Blackstock's new Moonlighters series, and she gets thing...moreThis was a really fast read and very enjoyable. Truth Stained Lies is the first book in Terri Blackstock's new Moonlighters series, and she gets things going with a bang ... or rather, a murder.
The reader very quickly becomes involved in the Cramer family's drama when a veiled threat is left for ex-lawyer turned crime blogger Cathy Cramer at almost exactly the same time as her brother, Jay, is about to walk into his worst nightmare. From that point on, the family (Juliet, Cathy, Jay and Holly) come together to uncover the truth and see justice is done--before another murder happens.
Throughout their sleuthing, the three sisters (who are all dramatically different and at different stages in their spiritual lives) are assisted by the ex-detective (now private investigator) brother of Cathy's deceased fiance. (Don't worry ... the relationships aren't as hard to follow as I'm probably making them sound.)
Terri does add a bit of misdirection to throw readers off the trail; however, anyone tuned in will probably suspect the culprit fairly quickly after they appear on the scene. Even so, picking the murderer won't spoil the enjoyment of the story because this murderer is not satisfied with only one victim.
Although the murder is, obviously, the foundation for Truth Stained Lies, the central focus is, most definitely family, faith and forgiveness. That is the heartbeat of this book, which is why the story continues on for a little longer than normal once the murderer has been revealed. All the loose ends in the family were tied up and relationships restored.
Although I am a Christian, I sometimes feel Christian authors feel obligated to tie things up with some type of Gospel message, even if communicated through the characters' own revelations, repentance and growth. Terri did a quite good job at keeping it believable (she didn't resort to altar calls and the sinner's prayer, as some authors do), but even so, it still felt a tiny bit obvious in those final pages. Having said that, I thought Truth Stained Lies was brought to a really satisfying, uplifting conclusion.
If you are looking for a drawn out thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page, this won't do it for you. However, if you like some thrills combined with a good, clean, family story, then Truth Stained Lies should suit you perfectly. I finished it in a day (thanks to voice over on my iPhone--perfect for listening to Kindle books while doing housework or driving) and enjoyed it very much. I immediately pre-ordered book 2 in the series--Distortion--which is due for release in March 2014. Looking forward to the next installment.
I really thought I was going to love Mums Like Us. The concept behind it was a good one. A small group of friends band together to create a club where...moreI really thought I was going to love Mums Like Us. The concept behind it was a good one. A small group of friends band together to create a club where women are encouraged to just be good enough in their role as mothers (as opposed to the impossible goal of perfection). What's not to love about that? Apparently nothing at all (at least as far as this fictional group is concerned). Within the twelve months spanned by the story, the club grows from a small group meeting in the main character's kitchen, to a worldwide phenomenon. So impacting is the Mums Like Us group that their chairperson is being lauded left, right and centre by international media, the prime minister, and even the wife of the President of the United States.
Possible, perhaps ... but somewhat stretching my ability to believe, as was a lot of the behaviour by main character, Stella (for example, what she did at the White House).
However, I would have taken all that on board as a bit of escapist fun, except for the way this book was communicated. The author definitely took a risk by choosing to write the story the way she did. Some readers may enjoy the different style, but I found it too restrictive and annoying. Apart from one telephone conversation, the entire book is written from two points of view--that of Stella and her husband Matt. The two points of view would have been fine, except they were communicated completely as though through one sided correspondence or addresses to meetings of the Mums Like Us group or Matt's Dad's Football group.
Although Matt fared okay with this style of writing, it was not so kind to Stella, who came across to the reader as extremely self-absorbed. This may have been intentional, to a point; however, even if that was the intention, I had great difficulty warming to her because of it.
For one thing, she was a bucket mouth. Goodness me, was nothing private to that woman? She helps out her nemesis, (the chairperson of the Mothers Superior group) at a special function when this woman got herself into a bit of a self-induced state. That was really nice of Stella, you may be thinking (and that kindness was later acknowledged by the other woman with a delivery of flowers to say "thank you"). But what did Stella do? Send an email to every member of the Mums Like Us group after the event, including information as to exactly what the Mothers Superior Chairperson had been doing in the toilet cubicle. This is one example of her blurting out way too much information (personal to her or to others) to way too many people, with the expectation that what happens in the group stays in the group (sure ... that would happen in the real world).
Apart from that, I also constantly found myself thinking how ridiculous both groups were--the Mums Like Us and the Mothers Superior. Both had rules for what you could and could not do, and both sets of rules were excessive (such as "You can diet, but you can't lose weight," for the Mums Like Us, but then Stella herself mentions how losing a few pounds does make us feel better.) Of course, I can see the satire in it, and the attempt to make something so over the top that it makes a point, but too often I was left thinking that there is a place right in the middle where, as a mother, you do what is right for you and your family.
I was also left wondering whether Stella protested way too much about her workload as a mother when the group first started. If she was so sleep-deprived and lacking the energy or time to clean, wash her hair, shower or change her clothes for days at a time, how exactly did she find the time to run this group (constant activities, press releases, functions, meetings, blog updates, correspondence, etc)?
My last negative comment was that I felt the coarse language was way overdone and unnecessary, as was her pet name for all the club members ("lardies" instead of "ladies"). Great way to make people feel good in their own skin ... not.
On the positive side, and there were some positive aspects, the author does use the fictional Mums Like Us group to open a conversation regarding motherhood and provide food for thought to the very real readers who may be struggling to live up to unrealistic ideals of perfection in motherhood. Perhaps, if nothing else, this book may give them the permission they think they need to just be themselves.
As others have said, the cover of The Selection was what caught my eye. I'm a sucker for a pretty cover--even when I'm reading an e-book. After readin...moreAs others have said, the cover of The Selection was what caught my eye. I'm a sucker for a pretty cover--even when I'm reading an e-book. After reading the synopsis, I thought it definitely sounded very much like something I would enjoy. I was all geared up to click "buy"...
Then I saw the ratings on Goodreads and hesitated. So many people apparently hated this book that I was turned off straight away.
But a day later, I was back (lured by that pretty cover and the appealing synopsis). I left it another day, then weakened. While respecting all opinions (and as you can see for yourself, they swing from loathing to loving), I decided to see for myself.
And oh ... I am SO glad I did.
At 52, I'm a far cry from being the target reader. My young adult days are many moons behind me, but something about The Selection resonated with my inner girl. Yes, there were a couple of spots where I thought "Huh?" (such as the fact that the main character was a singer and musician, but hated being in the spotlight). And yes, there were a couple of times when I wanted to give our heroine, America Singer, a bit of a shake. But for the most part, I was captivated from start to finish.
In case you haven't read the gazillion other reviews, this is the first of three books in the series. It is a dystopian fairy tale (without any fairies--just castles, kings, queens, princes, and princess wannabes). Yes, it has elements of the Hunger Games, but don't expect any fighting to the death (just the occasional slapped face and catty behavior). And yes, it definitely is a little like The Bachelor reality show, but at its heart, The Selection is a romantic fairy tale--with two male leads.
Some time in the future, after World War IV, the United States no longer exists (as such). Following World War III, the USA had become the American State of China, after that country became a little miffed at being stiffed on all those overdue loan repayments. World War IV led to a treaty being signed with China (phew!) and a new nation, comprising all North America, was formed. The nation of Ilea. But things are not the same. The nation of Ilea is now ruled under a monarchy, and the people live under a caste system. The higher your number, the lower you are in the pecking order. The King and his family are 1s. America Singer and her family are 5s (the Artist caste).
Life is quite good for those at the top of the caste pyramid, but becomes less fun the further down the ranks you go. So what young woman wouldn't jump at the opportunity to be one of the 25 possible brides for the Prince of Ilea? Well, America Singer, that's who.
But, of course, that's exactly what happens to our heroine. Leaving her true love behind, she is chosen to compete for the Prince's hand in marriage. A competition that will change her life forever, win or lose.
Be prepared, though. Being a three-part series, everything is not neatly wrapped up at the end of Book 1. Even so, I was satisfied with the way author Kiera Cass brought it to a close. The 25 potential brides have been reduced to a handful of the elite, and the reader is given a glimpse into the Prince's reasons for his choices--as well as a glimpse into his heart.
I loved the story so much I immediately bought Book 2, The Elite, but am going to hold off reading it. Book 3 is not due out until April 2014, and I don't want to be waiting that long for the finale.
So if you are umming and ahhing about whether to read The Selection, I say give it a go. If you hate it, you hate it. But you may be delightfully surprised. I know I was.
After finishing Cupcakes at Carrington's this morning, I was hungry for more. The next Carrington's novel will be out next month (November 2013), but...moreAfter finishing Cupcakes at Carrington's this morning, I was hungry for more. The next Carrington's novel will be out next month (November 2013), but author Alexandra Brown has not left her readers in the dark until then thanks to her short story, Me and Mr Carrington.
At just 40 pages, this is a very quick visit to the Carrington's Department Store at Mulberry-On-Sea. It begins with a quick recap, through a conversation between Georgie and her friend, Eddie, then moves on to show that Georgie is still a little uncertain as to her budding relationship with new store owner, Tom Carrington. A bit of aristocratic drama and misunderstandings ensue, before things are brought to a very pleasant, totally chick lit ending.
Although Alexandra has done a good job filling in the necessary details so new readers will be brought up to speed with the most important parts of the story, I would still recommend readers start with Cupcakes at Carrington's before reading this novella. It isn't essential, but it will help the reader get to know and love the characters.
So, all in all, this is just a tiny taste of Georgie and Carrington's fun to satisfy our appetites before the release of Christmas at Carrington's. I can't wait.