Thursday, January 31, 2013

Girl in the Gatehouse

Author: Julie Klassen

Genre: Life

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: I read it via Kindle.

Time period: 1800s

My overall opinion: A good book! Interesting, and had a good dose of Regency mystery. Sure to delight any reader who has previously enjoyed Julie’s books!

Need to Read #32 (BONUS!): Book of Dreams

Title: Book of Dreams

Author: Davis Bunn

Book blurb: For Dr. Elena Burroughs, life is divided into two chapters—before and after the death of her husband. Today marks the point that her span of being a wife is equal to her span of being a widow. Even her success as a psychologist and her worldwide acclaim for a book on the interpretation of dreams is dimmed by an unspoken If only.
Then a new patient arrives, one so private only her first name is given. Impeccably dressed and escorted by two bodyguards, Sandra recounts a frightening series of recurrent nightmares. Elena agrees to consider her case more carefully, convinced that something ominous may be at work here. Elena's interpretation of her dreams confirms that, indeed, the new patient and her family confront a powerful global network of dangerous forces.
As the story unfolds, they face a key question of the Christian life: How do you understand and fulfill the will of God?

Quick endorsement: I’ve read this book twice. The first time, I read it and really enjoyed it, giving it a fairly high rating. The second time, I almost had to force myself to start it…only to find it really was as good a book as I had rated it! All that to say – this is a good book. The cover may not look it, the back cover may not read like it is…but give it a try.

Link to review:

Need to Read #31: A Hobbit Devotional

Title: A Hobbit Devotional

Author: Ed Strauss

Book blurb: If you enjoy J. R. R. Tolkien—even if you’re new to his classic stories—you’ll love A Hobbit Devotional featuring 60 humorous, challenging, and encouraging devotionals. Soon to be a major motion picture, The Hobbit has fascinated readers for more than 70 years. Now, this tale of humble folk who overcome fear, discouragement, and despair through steadfastness, courage, and hope forms the basis of a brand-new devotional book. Each reading sketches a scene from The Hobbit, relates it to a contemporary life situation you might experience yourself, and brings in the teaching of a relevant Bible story or verse.

Quick endorsement: I had high hopes when I asked for this book, and they were not disappointed. Some devotional books based on literature are far too preachy, and come across as boring. But some? Are perfect. This is one of those. Perfect for those of you who are avid Hobbit fans, it incorporates the story and the application seamlessly in an interesting manner. I definitely recommend it.

Link to review:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cover Focus: When a Secret Kills

When a Secret Kills by Lynette Eason

Book blurb from : Investigative reporter Jillian Carter knows it's time to put the past to rest. She's tired of looking over her shoulder, letting a killer go free. She's no longer the scared kid who changed her name and disappeared. Now, no matter what the cost, Jillian must do what she is trained to do-ferret out the truth and expose it. Senator Frank Hoffman committed murder ten years ago-and Jillian watched it happen. Didn't she?”

Read my review: I haven't read it yet, but I have read the first two books in the Deadly Reunions series...and they were amazing.
Why I like this cover: I'm sure part of what is influencing me to love this over so much is the fact that I can tell from here that I'm going to love the story. But the other big thing I can pinpoint that makes me love it? The colors. I adore that blue background...and the purpley/white waves make it mysterious and yet beautiful. The white light is an immediate eye-catcher...or rather, it would, except that a beautiful young woman is staring at you. Look at the brown of her eye! At least, I think it's brown. Other angles make me think it's gray, or maybe a shade of blue or purple. What do you think? Either way, that is the immediate focus on this cover. Her dark hair blowing back and the blue lapel add the perfect of touch of femininity and yet strength. It's an amazing cover for what I'm sure will be an amazing book.

Blog Tour: The Runner

Author: A. Wayne Gill

Genre: Mystery, life

Series: Michael Knight series

Number in series: 1st

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 280

Time period: Present

My overall opinion: This book contained an interesting story that was a fairly quick read, and featured multiple main characters. I guess my personal primary problem with it was the editing job – the punctuation was especially bad, with erratic commas, and more often, entirely missing commas, or misplaced quote marks. That makes it harder to read, and definitely harder to enjoy. I did like the clear precise layout of the gospel message. I would read the next book given the opportunity. While this book didn’t make the favorites list for me, it was fairly good for a first book.

**Glass Road Public Relations is doing the blog tour for this book, and sent me a complimentary copy in return for my honest review. I was in no way recompensed for this review, and opinions are my own. I didn't have to post a positive review.** 

Need to Read #30: Cranford

Title: Cranford
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Book blurb: Gaskell's witty and poignant comedy of country-town life, a gently comic picture of life in an English country town in the mid-nineteenth century, Cranford describes the small adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters striving to live with dignity in reduced circumstances.
Rich with humor and filled with vividly memorable characters, including the dignified Lady Glenmire and the duplicitous showman Signor Brunoni, Cranford is a portrait of kindness, compassion, and hope.

Quick endorsement: I started this book thinking I’d read it merely because it was written by Elizabeth Gaskell (who I knew to be an excellent classic author) and because it had a TV show based upon it that many of my friends loved. Little did I expect to love this book myself! While it no doubt appears boring at first, you won’t find it to be so. Quaint and funny, it’s highly enjoyable!

Link to review:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Author: Ally Condie

Genre: Fantasy, science fiction

Series: Matched series

Number in series: 2nd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 367

Time period: Future

My overall opinion: I didn’t like it as much as Matched, but it was still an interesting book. The cover is amazing and intriguing.

Need to Read #29: Vanished

Title: Vanished

Author: Irene Hannon

Book blurb: Reporter Moira Harrisons is lost. In the dark. In a thunderstorm. When a confusing detour places her on a rural, wooded road, she's startled by the sudden appearance of a lone figure caught in the beam of her headlights. Though Moira jams on her brakes, the car careens across the wet pavement--and the solid thump against the side of the vehicle tells her she hit the person before she crashes into a tree on the far side of the road.
A dazed Moira is relieved when a man opens her door, tells her he saw everything, and promises to call 911. Then everything fades to black. When she comes to an hour later, she is alone. No man. No 911. No injured person lying on the side of the road. But she can't forget the look of terror she saw on the person's face in the instant before her headlights swung away. The person she hit had been in trouble. She's sure of it. But she can't get anyone to believe her story--except a handsome former police detective, now a private eye, who agrees to take on the case.
From the very first page, readers will be hooked into this fast-paced story full of shocking secrets from fan-favorite Irene Hannon. "Vanished" is the exciting first book in the Private Justice series: Three justice seekers who got burned playing by the rules now have a second chance to make things right.

Quick endorsement: If I had to name a great suspense book that I read in 2012…it would, at this moment, be this one. This book was amazing, packed with suspense and sweet romance, among other things. Definitely worth the money and the read.

Link to review:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Princess of the Silver Woods

Author: Jessica Day George

Genre: Fairy tale, fantasy

Series: Unknown

Number in series: 3rd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 322

Time period: Fantasy

My overall opinion: While I love the cover of this beautiful book, I found the story to be somewhat disappointing. A unique combination of Little Red Riding Hood and the Twelve Dancing Princesses, it didn’t live up to the standard set by the first two books in the series. I know the author can do better, as she has evidenced in the delightful Tuesdays at the Castle. Having said that, however, this was a tolerably good book. It just didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped it would.

200 Follower Giveaways!

I have long promised to have a giveaway when Austenitis reached 200 followers...and it's now at 201. Thank you to each and every one of you! So now it's time for me to carry out that promise and give y'all a giveaway. But I was feeling SO good about 201 followers that I decided...we're having two giveaways, with two winners, for two awesome books. You can enter both, or just one -- your choice.

Also, note that Austenitis got a Facebook page just can earn 10 extra entries in EACH giveaway by liking it! If I reach 51 likes on that page by the end of the giveaway (that is, by February 8), I'll add another great book (The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport) and another winner. 51 because after all, I liked the page myself, so I need 50 others to like it.

Each of these giveaways ends on February 8, 2013. Continental US addresses only, please.

First giveaway is for No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And the second giveaway, the one that I kept a mystery for a while is for... Vanished by Irene Hannon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Need to Read #28: Seed Sowers

Title: Seed Sowers

Author: Gwen Toliver

Book blurb: From the hot, steamy jungles of Indonesia to the highest mountain passes in the Andes of Peru, Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures takes you on an unforgettable adventure around the world.
Hang on to your hats! Seed Sowers tells twenty one true tales of modern-day missionaries whose lives were anything but boring.
Crazed wildcats, angry witch doctors, heart pounding jungle rides down white-water rapids, terrifying headhunters and cannibals, and frightening first contacts with unknown tribes--each story bears testimony to the brave missionaries that God calls to serve.
Each one of them is a seed sower--planting the seeds of God's Word in the lives of people around the world waiting for Scripture in the language of their heart.

Quick endorsement: This book is action-packed, exciting, entertaining, funny, sad, and moving – all in one. A great collection of true missionary stories, and perfect for a read-aloud!

Link to review:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lord of the Rings Trilogy Photo Guide

Author: Alison Sage, David Brawn

Genre: Guide to movie

Series: Goes with the Lord of the Rings movies

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5

Number of pages: 160

My overall opinion: It is called the official children's photo guide, but I think adults will enjoy it as well! It's packed with pictures, including some I'd never seen before, and is in a story format. Lots of pictures, a few words, just enough to tell the story. I was especially glad that this book, at least, goes all the way to the very end of the movie. A lot end right before the climax, which is a bummer. It's a beautiful photo collection!

Need to Read #27: Bourne & Tributary

Title: Bourne and Tributary

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Book blurb: The Bettarinis and the boys they love are back with these two novellas that follow Waterfall, Cascade and Torrent.
In Bourne, t he story picks up right where Torrent left off...Find out what happened to wounded warriors returning from battle, to the Betarrinis, fighting for the men who've captured their hearts, and what will happen to them next...
A year later, in Tributary, Lia struggles to overcome the fear that constant battle has heaped upon her; Gabi and Marcello face an unexpected crisis; and Lord Greco may be ready to leave the grief and loss of his past behind him, so that he might grab hold of the future...

Quick endorsement: I suppose that these are supposedly two books…they originally came out as two separate e-novellas. But then they were published in soft cover form, and so I got a copy. And loved it. This one is the wrap up for the stories begun in Waterfall, a book that clocked in as my #2 Need to Read. This is a wonderful finale to the series (though I can hardly wait for the upcoming book Deluge!). (And yes – I took my book outside, laid it on icy tracks on the driveway, and took those pictures. :)

Link to review:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cover Focus: Abducted

Abducted by Janice Cantore

Book blurb from : After solving the mayor s murder and exposing corruption among the top brass in Las Playas, Carly Edwards is happy to be back on patrol with her partner, Joe, putting bad guys behind bars. For once, everything in life seems to be going right. But then everything starts going wrong. Slow to recover from an injury, her ex-husband, Nick, begins pulling away just as they were starting to get close again. Meanwhile, when Joe s wife lands in the hospital with a mysterious illness, their baby is kidnapped. As Carly chases down every lead in a desperate search to find the baby, her newfound faith is pushed to its limits.”

Why I like this cover: You look once, then you look again, right? Cause suddenly you realize…she’s holding a gun on you! THAT is pretty much the most striking thing about this cover. Carly, with straight blond hair and piercing eyes (that have just a little makeup), looks just like a woman police officer! She certainly looks stern enough. And also – note the badge on the sleeve for the arm that’s holding the gun. Interestingly enough, she’s not peeking through a door when you look closely. It’s a hallway with the center cut out for her picture. Striking? I think so! Definitely a book I want to read someday.

Need to Read #26: One Tuesday Morning

Title: One Tuesday Morning

Author: Karen Kingsbury

Book blurb: I'm a firefighter, God, so I know I've been in some tough places before. But this . . . this not knowing the people I love . . . this is the hardest thing I can imagine. The last thing Jake Bryan knew was the roar of the World Trade Center collapsing on top of him and his fellow firefighters. The man in the hospital bed remembers nothing. Not rushing with his teammates up the stairway of the south tower to help trapped victims. Not being blasted from the building. And not the woman sitting by his bedside who says she is his wife. Jamie Bryan will do anything to help her beloved husband regain his memory, and with it their storybook family life with their small daughter, Sierra. But that means helping Jake rediscover the one thing Jamie has never shared with him: his deep faith in God. Jake’s fondest prayer for his wife is about to have an impact beyond anything he could possibly have conceived. One Tuesday Morning is a love story like none you have ever read: tender, poignant, commemorating the tragedy and heroism of September 11 and portraying the far-reaching power of God's faithfulness and a good man's love.

Quick endorsement: Technically, my favorite series by Karen is the Bailey Flanigan series…but those aren’t the books I chose to focus on here. This is an incredibly moving story of God’s power, shown through the horrific tragedy of 9/11. I highly recommend this book.

Link to review:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Revell Blog Tour: Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

Author: Olivia Newport

Genre: Life
Series: Avenue of Dreams

Number in series: 2nd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5

Type: Historical fiction

Number of pages: 316

Time period: 1800s (around 1893)

Book blurb excerpted from : Charlotte Farrow, maid in the wealthy Banning household on Chicago's opulent Prairie Avenue, has kept her baby boy a secret from her employers for nearly a year. But when the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child's fate. Can she face the truth of her own past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life's tragedies determine the future for her?
This compelling story set against the glittering backdrop of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition captures the tension between the wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable.

My overall opinion: What a fascinating book! Set in Chicago at the same time as Chicago’s World Fair (or the Columbian Exposition) in 1893, this book has the fair as a theme, though it’s not really the main point. I love learning fascinating history through fascinating historical fiction books! This book had a riveting dash of suspense. If you haven’t read The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, book one in the Avenue of Dreams series, don’t worry – this one can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone, which is exactly what I did. Charlotte is a delightful heroine, and Archie a touching hero in this sweet story.
On a short sidenote...I've heard multiple people say it's similar to Downton Abbey, the immensely popular TV show that just had Season 3 come out. So if you're a fan...check this book out!

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell,  a division of Baker Publishing Group.

**Revell sent me a copy of this book for review purposes. I was recompensed for my review in no other way, and I was not obligated to give it a high rating or post positively. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Need to Read #25: Harvest of Rubies

Title: Harvest of Rubies

Author: Tessa Afshar

Book blurb: The prophet Nehemiah's cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve great mysteries. There is only one problem: she is a woman.
In her early childhood years, Sarah experienced the death of her mother and her father's subsequent emotional distance and she came to two conclusions: that God does not care about her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth - the measure of herself.
Sarah, the talented scribe and cousin to Nehemiah, is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen. Ironically, it isn't failure but success that causes Sarah to lose her only source of external validation.
Sarah soon learns that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums - her very being proves to be a blessing to others.

Quick endorsement: There are times when good Biblical fiction is almost impossible to find…but this last year was not one of those times for me. While this is not drawn as much from the Bible as Tessa’s first book, Pearl in the Sand, is, that’s simply because of the nature of the story. While PS focused on the story of Rahab, this book was about a non-Biblical character, who knew and was related to Nehemiah. Great book.  

Link to review:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Short-Straw Bride

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Genre: Adventure, romance

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9.5

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: I read it via Kindle.

Time period: 1800s

My overall opinion: I think I can definitely say that Karen Witemeyer is a favorite author of mine! You may remember that I read Head in the Clouds some time ago and simply loved it. This was the next book that I read, and I hoped it would be as good, but wasn’t sure since I’d been younger then. It did not disappoint. The story was super sweet and absolutely impossible to put down. There wasn’t as much humor as HC (though it is true I read HC back in 2011, so my memory may be failing). But one big thing in its favor? The cover. The characters are EXACTLY like they should be. They look JUST like they sound in the book. It’s not often one finds a cover that matches the book as perfectly as this one matches its book!  

Guardian of the Flame

Author: T. L. Higley

Genre: Life

Series: Seven Wonders series

Number in series: 3rd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5

Type: Historical fiction

Number of pages: 379

Time period: Right after Jesus…so I’m putting it as Bible times

My overall opinion: It was a very interesting book that kept me reading! I look forward to reading more by Tracy, and especially to reading more from this series. Good book.

Need to Read #24: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Title: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Author: Perry Moore

Book blurb: The ultimate visual companion and keepsake to the making of the stunning fantasy film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe based on the beloved children's classic by C.S. Lewis.
C.S. Lewis wrote the classic children's series over 50 years ago, and the amazing land of Narnia is finally coming to the big screen. This beautiful book captures the creative energy behind this film and offers the official inside story on how the magic was made.
Includes selections from the script, still shots from the film, photos of the production, an introduction and stories throughout from the producer, Perry Moore, reflections and anecdotes from cast and crew, and much more.
By going beyond the usual soundbites which make up traditional 'Making Of' books, this insider's account allows for the real personality of the project and its people to shine through its pages.

Quick endorsement: Movie guides with lots of pictures are one of my favorite things, and this is the best one I’ve found for any movie. The only movie it covers, however, is LWW. If you are a Narnia fan, this book is an absolute must!

Link to review:

**Note: $7.98 is a great price. I paid at least $20 for mine! I don't regret that...but would have preferred this. ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

200 Followers, Giveaway, Poll, and Today's Haul

Hey, everyone! First things first...

Austenitis has reached 200 followers!
Thanks to each and everyone of you lovely followers -- many thanks to Amber S who made my lunch-hour so much better when I discovered her as the 200th! (As a small aside, and thank you, let me send you over to Amber's wonderful blog! I just discovered it myself.)
Next, giveaway news. Part one -- we're coming down to the final days of the giveaway for Melanie Dickerson's newest book, Fairest Beauty! Click HERE to go and enter...lots of ways to get entries, including tweeting daily! :) Part two -- as promised, now that I've reached 200 followers, I'll have a giveaway! And the great part? There are going to be two books instead of just the one! The first I've already told you about: No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig. But the other? You'll have to wait and see. Warning: it's also a great book that you will love!
The poll: should I giveaway both books as one great prize package? Or do two winners, one for each book? You tell me in the poll I'll be putting up on the right.

Something I don't have room for in the title: I guest posted today on Miss Elizabeth's totally awesome blog that I've been reading for years! I posted a comparison of the two newest (1995 and 2005) versions of Pride and Prejudice. Go HERE to see my post and check out the whole week of 200th Anniversary P&P stuff by clicking HERE.
Finally, today's haul. I was blessed with a Barnes & Noble gift-card for Christmas -- and bought three others from my siblings for slightly less than they were worth...resulting in a nice chunk of B&N money. So I finally made my order on Saturday, and the first part arrived today! Apparently they split it into four separate packages (I had to do two orders since I was using more than three gift-cards). But you're curious what came today, right? Check it out:

They respectively are The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson, Trinity: Military War Dog by Ronie Kendig, and Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley. I haven't read any of them before, and am super excited about all of them! I've previously loved books by Melanie Dickerson (Fairest Beauty) and Tracy L. Higley (Pompeii: City of Fire, Guardian of the Flame), but haven't read anything by Ronie Kendig before. Pretty sure I'm going to enjoy that one though! I've seen a lot of rave reviews.

So, giveaway coming soon! Make sure you vote in the poll, and tell me -- have you read any of these books or enjoyed others by the authors? Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Melanie's book! I linked to it up towards the top.

Need to Read #23: Fire in Ember

Title: Fire in Ember

Author: DiAnn Mills

Book blurb: John Timmons' life is planned and orderly. He cares for his mother and four younger brothers, and their future depends on him to keep their Colorado ranch profitable. Ember Farrar (Bert) has run away from her law-breaking family in search of a new life. But, when she attempts to return a horse that her brother had stolen, ranch hands believe she is a thief and a boy and they plan to hang her. John, who is also a deputy marshal, breaks up the hanging. After paying for the stolen horse, he takes the boy home to work off the debt. Later he learns Bert is a girl who refuses to tell him who she is and why she possessed a stolen horse. When ranchers report stolen cattle, Bert is a natural suspect. John is touched by Bert's sweet spirit and natural gift of music. Surely she's not a cattle thief. Bert fears for their lives when she is forced to either help her brothers steal or put the Timmons in danger. When John thinks Bert has betrayed him, he ignores God and turns revengeful. Will John learn who Bert truly is? Will their lives ever return back to normal?

Quick endorsement: A girl who is trying to pass as a boy…not something you see in just every book! This one was well-written and a good read, full of exciting adventures and threaded with mystery.

Link to review:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Genre: Adventure, science fiction

Series: The Missing

Number in series: 4th

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8 high

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 344

Time period: 1600s

My overall opinion: The setting for this book really didn’t grab me as much as the previous ones did. It was with Henry Hudson in James Bay in 1611. Again, a long and informative author’s note.