Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review of "The Pelican Bride"

Rating: 3.5 Stars
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Review: "Pelican Bride" brims with historical details surrounding a lesser covered era in history. Beth White places readers in the Gulf Coast, circa 1704.  Tensions run high between the colonies, Native Americans, and various religious groups.  There is no shortage of historical information or characters within the pages of "The Pelican Bride."  The plot jumps right into the unsettled environs of the Gulf Coast, and there are a multitude of details and political figures for readers to absorb.  White's thorough research is evident throughout, and the novel acted as a history lesson for me.  The political complexities were too much for me at times.  It took me several chapters to settle into the story, and I was drawn to certain topics more than others.  

"The Pelican Bride" goes far beyond a story about a ship of unmarried women traveling to unknown territories in search of husbands.  White uses the perspectives of several different characters to extend the plot.  While I appreciate the depth and dynamics various points-of-view lend to the story, the changes  left me feeling disconnected and unsettled. As the climaxes approach, the scenes switch quickly leaving us just on the brink of something significant occurring.  This definitely builds suspense, which can keep readers anxiously turning the pages.  Ultimately, I would have preferred fewer character perspectives and less sudden scene transitions. 

Because there were some subplots that held my attention more, the pace and my interest ebbed and flowed as I was reading.  The characters of Genevieve and Nika both have intriguing stories to tell with complex lives and backgrounds.  I appreciate White's portrayal of a French woman and a Native American woman living in the same area, but experiencing life in completely different ways, even when their paths cross.  The relationships that develop in "The Pelican Bride" are diverse and unique, and the political element adds suspense and historical background.  For readers looking for Christian fiction with a well-researched plot, "The Pelican Bride" offers a love story wrapped in layers of history. 

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Revell through the Revell Reads Blog Tour Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Summary from Baker Publishing Group: She's come to the New World to escape a perilous past. But has it followed her to these far shores?

It is 1704 when Frenchwoman Geneviève Gaillain and her sister board the frigate Pélican bound for the distant Louisiana colony. Both have promised to marry one of the rough men toiling in this strange new world in order to escape suffering in the old. Geneviève knows life won't be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of persecution for her outlawed religious beliefs.

When she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer-turned-farmer whose checkered past is shrouded in mystery, Geneviève realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. Trouble is brewing outside the fort between the French colonists and the native people surrounding them. And an even more sinister enemy may lurk within. Could the secret Geneviève harbors mean the undoing of the colony itself?

Gulf Coast native Beth White brings vividly to life the hot, sultry South in this luscious, layered tale.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review of "A Sensible Arrangement"

Rating: 3.5 Stars
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Review: From the ranches of Texas to the mile-high city of Denver, "A Sensible Arrangement" lays the foundation for Tracie Peterson's new "Lone Star Bride" series.  This novel introduces several story-lines that will continue into the next novel. Peterson incorporates romance, faith, and history to create a pleasant read despite unfinished ends. A bit of mystery is incorporated into the historical element, which centers on the economic downturn of the late 1890s.  Peterson paints a dimensional picture of the growing city of Denver, from the upper crust of society to orphans.  A western story set in a city is quite refreshing, but there is still a touch of wild-west style excitement and Texas twang.

The main premise of "A Sensible Arrangement" is the marriage-of-convenience between the two lead characters, Marty and Jake.  Their relationship is relatively predictable, but fraught with emotional challenges that add some complexity.  The subplots held more interest for me than the love story.  Marty's work with orphans reveals the plight that homeless adults and children faced in the midst of an economic downturn.  There is definitely the potential for this plot to develop more throughout the series.  The more exciting subplot is the crime mystery involving Jake's bank and the father of Marty's maid, Alice.  Pieces of the mystery are revealed along the way, enough to keep you guessing about who is behind the crime.  I kept reading in anticipation of the solution, only to find that the mystery will continue.  As that part of the story threads through other novels, I am eager to learn more about Alice who has the potential to be a dynamic lead character. 

"A Sensible Arrangement" is an enjoyable weekend read with some excitement and many lessons in honesty and faith.  The historical details set it apart from similar novels and set the tone for the rest of the "Lone Star Brides" series.  Peterson leaves readers primed with anticipation for the next novel, "A Moment in Time"

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from LitFuse. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Summary from Bethany House: Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.

Answering an advertisement for a "Lone Star bride," she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn't know.

Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her. Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience. 

When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake's yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty's dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.

What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways... and dreams and secrets collide?

Review of "Defy the Night"

Rating: 3.5 Stars
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Review: "Defy the Night" is a tale to make readers consider true courage and sacrifice. Heather Munn and Lydia Munn teach young adult readers valuable lessons through their teenage protagonist, Magali.  The story takes place in 1940s France, when Hitler's regime is beginning to carry out their devastating plot against Jews.  The setting provides a different perspective of World War II for both young adult and adult readers, and the Munns describe the political and social environment with clarity and realism.  The pages capture what can only be small fraction of the desolation of the Jew interment camps in France, but the images are sad and emotionally stirring.  The bravery of the female aid workers who entered the camps and transferred countless children to safety is remarkable and inspiring. Their story is one that deserves to be told. 

After reading "Defy the Night,"  I am left with mixed feelings.  The historical element is compelling, but Magali's perspective is sometimes distracting.  Some of the conversation sounds too modern for a novel set in the 1940s.  At the same time, young adult readers need to relate to Magali and a more modern tone may help to build a connection.  Magali comes across as impulsive, bitter, and critical of her friends and family throughout much of the novel.  These qualities are not condoned, and often cause trouble for Magali and the cause she is trying to support.  Magali's character alternates between soft and hard.  Just when she seems to be maturing, a thought or action mars the impression of growth.  In the end, Magali learns an important lesson of sincere sacrifice and shows maturity. 

The secondary characters clearly have their own stories to tell.  Paquerette's perspective as an aid worker would make a powerful foundation for an adult novel.  Nina is a background character in "Defy the Night," whose story is told in "How Huge the Night,"  I hope that the voices of Magali's other friends will find life in the pages of future books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Description from Kregel Publications: In the midst of war, one teenager is determined to make a difference. If no one will do anything, she'll have to do it herself.

In 1941 France is still "free." But fifteen-year-old Magali is frustrated by the cruel irony of pretending life is normal when food is rationed, new clothes are a rarity, and most of her friends are refugees. And now the government is actually helping the Nazis. Someone has got to do something, but it seems like no one has the guts—until Paquerette arrives.

Smuggling refugee children is Paquerette's job. And she asks Magali to help.

Working with Paquerette is scary and exhausting, but Magali never doubts that it is the right thing to do. Until her brash actions put those she loves in danger.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review of "Somebody Like You"

Rating: 4 Stars
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Review:  Beth K. Vogt puts a big spin on typical romances in "Somebody Like You."  Neither the love story nor the female lead, Haley, can be called completely traditional. The concept of a pregnant woman falling in love with her deceased husband's identical twin sounds contrived, but Vogt makes a story that plays out like a television movie. I wondered if the identical twin aspect would make the growing love between the Haley and Stephen awkward, but Vogt develops the romance well and creates distinct differences between Stephen and his twin.  

It would be difficult not to like Stephen and his persistence to reconcile with his brother's widow despite Haley's stubbornness. Initially, I was a bit put off by Haley's tough exterior and no-nonsense attitude.  As the story progresses, Haley's character softens and becomes more relatable. Haley and Stephen have problems and pain to work through, which both hinder and help their relationship.  There is a ongoing emotional dance around their growing mutual attraction, which left me anticipating a happy conclusion to Haley's and Stephen's stories.  True to real life, readers cannot expect a perfect happily ever after ending.  They can expect a journey of forgiveness, reconciliation, self-discovery,  and the promise of a future shaped by lessons from the past. 

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Howard Books through Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Summary from Howard Books: Can a young widow find love again with her husband’s reflection?

Haley’s three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he’s killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening—and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed? 

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relation­ship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together—and whose ghost could drive them apart?

Somebody Like You is a beautifully rendered, affecting novel, reminding us that while we can’t change the past, we have the choice to change the future and start anew.

Review of "A Stillness of Chimes"

Rating: 4 Stars
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Review: Meg Moseley always delivers novels with heart, depth, and complexity.  True to the style set by her previous two novels, "A Stillness of Chimes" encompasses a spectrum of emotions in a multi-faceted plot. An air of mystery prevails throughout the novel, and every character has a story that becomes a cohesive part of the bigger story.  Moseley steers readers directly into serious subjects and immerses us directly into life in Prospect, Georgia.  "A Stillness of Chimes" certainly has its share of pain and less-than-happy realizations for the characters, but it is a beautifully written novel with a prevailing sense of hope and happiness.

The novel's central mystery surrounds the presumed death of Elliot Gantt, but a web of connected mysteries is revealed as the plot unfolds.  Elliot's daughter, Laura, and his protege, Sean, are left to uncover both past and present truths.  With both of Laura's parents gone, there are no straight forward answers to the mounting questions, just assumptions and childhood memories.  Moseley's storytelling kept me interested throughout the book's entire emotional journey. The characters are fully developed and even Laura's parents, who are only alive in Laura's and Sean's memories have complexities that make them three-dimensional.

"A Stillness of Chimes" is novel that will touch reader's hearts.  Moseley ventures far beyond predictability to create a Southern tale of love, forgiveness, and truth.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Click Here to Read Chapter 1.

Summary from Waterbrook Multnomah: What if the pain of the past revealed an unknown sacrifice that changes everything?

When teacher Laura Gantt comes home to Prospect, Georgia to settle her recently-deceased mother’s household, the last thing she expects to encounter is a swirl of rumors about the father she lost to the lake twelve years ago—that he has reportedly been seen around town. Elliott Gantt’s body was never found and he was presumed dead.

Reeling from the sharp loss of a parent, Laura must now grapple with painful memories surrounding her father’s disappearance and the sense of abandonment she experienced after his death. Life-long friend and former beau Sean Halloran wants nothing more than to protect Laura from the far-fetched stories of Elliott’s resurrection and to care for her, but he has his own reasons, troubling echoes from his childhood, to put Elliott’s disappearance to rest.

Working together, Laura and Sean begin to uncover the truth, one mired in the wooded peaks and deep waters of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Prospect. Can they fathom how many secrets the steep hills hold? With surprising facts revealed, will Laura be able to understand the sacrificial choices made that forever changed her life? And can love and a peace with God be rekindled in her heart after so much time has passed? 

About the Author: Meg Moseley is still a Californian at heart although she's lived more than half her life in other states. Holding jobs that ranged from candle-maker to administrative assistant, Meg eventually contributed human-interest pieces for a suburban edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contemporary fiction remains her real love, and she's the author of When Sparrows Fall and Gone South. She lives in Atlanta near the foothills of the Southern Appalachians with her husband.  Read More at


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