Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Light in the Window

Author: Julie Lessman

Genre: Romance, Christmas

Series: It’s the prequel to the Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series’

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9.5

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 407

Time period: 1920s

Publisher: Revell

My overall opinion: What a lovely read this book was! I enjoyed it so very much – delightful to get back into a Julie Lessman book after quite some time without. Before I continue, I should mention that Julie writes fairly passionate romance, compared to what most Christian romance is. There’s nothing explicit, but it’s more passionate than most that I read. The characters are wonderful. The hero, Patrick, was to die for, and the heroine, Marcy, was adorable. I loved them all! The locations, set in the 1920s, are well-drawn and I had no problem picturing them clearly. There are a few funny scenes (always a bonus in almost any book), and many sweet ones – Julie writes those with great skill. Again, the people are the best part of it! This was a wonderful book that I greatly enjoyed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Zondervan Blog Tour: Merlin’s Blade

Author: Robert Treskillard

Genre: Fantasy, adventure

Series: The Merlin Spiral

Number in series: 1st

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 428

Time period: 400 ish

Publisher and price: Zondervan, $9.99

My overall opinion: Set in a fascinating era, this book is a stunning beginning to a new series set in the time of Merlin, as is clear from the title. The storyline moves along at a quick pace, and is packed with vivid characters – huge array of personalities! There’s also plenty of action, sure to keep you reading. Boys and girls alike will enjoy this one! I’d probably recommend it for 12 and up – there isn’t objectionable content that I noticed, but it’s quite a long book and the story will be better understood by slightly older readers. My only problem with the book was indeed the length – while 428 pages isn’t SUPER long, each of those pages had a lot of words/paragraphs/etc. The whole book was exciting, but by the end, despite the excitement, it was dragging a bit for me. I’m looking forward to the sequel (Merlin’s Shadow) due out in September (fyi, it has a great cover!).

**Zondervan sent me an ARC of this book for review purposes. I wasn’t required to post a positive review, only an honest one – which is what I have done. I am not recompensed in any other way.**

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blog Tour: Roses Have Thorns

Author: Sandra Byrd

Genre: Life, history…which sounds boring, but isn’t.

Series: Ladies in Waiting

Number in series: 3rd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9.5

Type: Historical fiction

Number of pages: 317

Time period: 1564-1603

Publisher and price: Howard Books (a division of Simon and Schuster), $14.99

My overall opinion: Oh, it was good! It was so much fun (and so interesting) to get to know Queen Elizabeth I a little better. I really did feel like I knew her pretty well by the end. And I love the cover too – more in person than online. The purple and gold are very stunning, and the entire trilogy looks so lovely all together on my shelf! Elin/Helena, the main heroine, is a lady in waiting to Elizabeth I and turned out to be a fascinating woman to “journey” with through this book, as she was telling the story herself (does that make sense?). I’m definitely sorry to see this series end – they are the best Tudor era fiction I’ve found. However, I do recommend them mostly for about age 16+ as they do occasionally deal with some more mature content – nothing explicit though.

The characters were all quite understandable and believable; perhaps the Queen most of all. At the beginning and end of the book are several informative family trees, plus an author’s note to wrap everything up. Sandra obviously put an amazing amount of research into this! One thing that I came across was that towards the beginning (page 52), one of Elin’s jobs was to warm the Queen’s bed every night for her. Yes, that means Elin got in, lay there until it was warm, then got out right before the Queen went to bed. If I were Queen? I’d get a bed-warmer. SO HANDY for cold nights. Anyway, that’s one thing that I’ve always rather wanted but never knew people did.  

All in all, a great book where you’ll learn history in a fascinating, memorable, and fun way!

Now, ready for the good part? I have not one but two giveaways! The first one is for Roses Have Thorns itself -- your very own copy. And the second? A lovely necklace from Belle on a Budget! Note that since the necklace is handmade, it may not look exactly like the one in the picture. Please note that BOTH of these giveaways are US only. Feel free to enter them both, and best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I find that the second giveaway isn't showing up like it should...if there's a link saying "a Rafflecopter giveaway" just click on it and you can go enter the same as you would if it was working just right! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 22, 2013

Zondervan Blog Tour: Avenger

Author: Heather Burch

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Halflings

Number in series: 3rd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 300

Time period: Present

Publisher and price: Zondervan, $14.99

My overall opinion: Since I unfortunately had not had the opportunity to read the first two books in this series (Halflings and Guardian), I wasn’t really sure at all of what to expect. I knew the cover was very interesting, but ultimately? I didn’t know what was ahead. At the beginning, I was a little confused – however, this is entirely my fault for not reading the books in order like they’re meant to be read. However, I figured everything out in a satisfactory manner soon enough and flew through the rest of the book; it was very easy to read. Heather Burch has a great imagination for so many fascinating scenes, and she seems full of creativity too! The book moved along quickly (but not in a rushed manner) and had all kinds of adventures and gripping suspense, along with a bit of romance. Definitely kept me reading! I really enjoyed the characters and came to really like them as the story progressed. And then there was a drop-off ending – you all know what I mean! Sure hoping to read the next book. Overall? Read the whole series, not just this one. But it was good!

**Many many thanks to Charleen from Zondervan who was so kind as to send me a lovely hardcover of this book. I wasn’t required to post a positive review, nor was I reimbursed for this review in any way other than the book.**

Monday Movie Quote

"Sink me. Your tailors have betrayed you."

Sir Percy to Chauvelin, The Scarlet Pimpernel, 1982
One of my favorite movies, and one of my favorite lines too! If you've never seen this one, now would be a great time. It's epic. And awesome. And funny. And sweet. And everything good all rolled into one. So watch it! :)
Once again, I'm linking up with my sweet friend Little Lady for Movie Quote Monday. Make sure you go and check out the others who also linked up!

Friday, April 19, 2013


Author: Dani Pettrey

Genre: Suspense

Series: Alaskan Courage

Number in series: 1st

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9.5

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 313

Time period: Present

Publisher and price: Bethany House, $14.99

My overall opinion: After reading and enjoying “Shattered” for the blog tour, I decided I needed to read the first book in the series. I finally convinced the library to get it…and can we say – New Favorite Book! Wow, it was so good. The first half? Yup, awesome. The second half? Beyond belief amazing. Now, a few things that stood out to me…the cover. Pretty cool. If you look close, you’ll note that the model had on mascara, which is now smearing in streaks down her face. Which I think is super cool because as any girl who’s ever gotten wet with un-water-proof-mascara on knows…that’s exactly what it does. Makes this cover real to me!

Once again, I loved the Alaska setting. It’s an amazing place, and I love it up there – reading books set there is a delight! Cole and Bailey too were such a delight to read about. I loved them both! And yes, I’m overusing the word love/d. ;) The suspense was super suspenseful, and the adventures and excitement were simply stunning. I also really loved getting to know Piper a bit in this book! I feel like I need to read “Shattered” again and see them all again now that I know them better! There were some very unique and fascinating settings – and concepts for the story as well. I was riveted the whole way through. I’m considering buying this one (despite the fact that the library now has it), but even if I decide not to buy it myself, I’ll be requesting it for my birthday or Christmas. It was THAT good!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bees in the Butterfly Garden

Author: Maureen Lang

Genre: Adventure

Series: Gilded Legacy

Number in series: 1st

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: Kindle

Time period: Could be 1800s or early 1900s (pre WWI)

My overall opinion: I’ll have to admit, first off, that this one had been on my to-read list for quite some time, ever since it came out, actually. But I hadn’t made any priority out of it…always thought it looked like a good read, but between the cover and title, I surmised that it was probably just a rather light and fluffy ultra-girly story, without anything in the way of real adventure between its covers. And then…I found it for free for my Kindle app. And boy was I ever wrong about the story! It was fast-moving, complex, had some drama, and was absolutely packed with all manner of adventures – it even included a dash of mystery to round it all out! All around, it was a good book that quite impressed me; I certainly look forward to reading the next book in the series. The title is actually quite accurate, as I figured out when it was worked smoothly into the story. :) I certainly recommend this book!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Heart’s Lullaby

Author: Jen Stephens

Genre: Life, family

Series: Harvest Bay

Number in series: 2nd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 382

Time period: Present

Publisher and price: Sheaf House, $15.99

My overall opinion: It was so good to finally, at long last, read this book by Jen. I was amazed when I started it one afternoon how easy it was to get into and how hard it was to put down! As the author herself told me, it’s a heavier sadder story than the first book in the series, Heart’s Journey Home. But, despite that, it was well-worth the time I spent reading it! I found myself totally empathizing with the main women of the story, Elizabeth and Amy. Though they were vastly different from each other in many ways, and though I have experienced very little of what they have/had gone through, I still was deeply entwined with them through their stories. It sounds weird, but I don’t know how else to put it! I got so exasperated with some of the characters sometimes – that’s the sign of a great book. I’ll definitely be keeping this one! It has a strong, but not over-bearing, Christian message, and I guarantee it will encourage and also challenge you. It deals with some tough issues in amazing ways. It was a delight to meet up with characters I grew to know and love in HJH. I thought it was a wonderful book!

**The author sent me a copy of this book for review purposes. I wasn’t required to post a positive review, and wasn’t recompensed in any other way. All opinions are my own.**

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blog Tour: Ashton Park

Author: Murray Pura

Genre: Life, family

Series: The Danforths of Lancashire

Number in series: 1st

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9

Type: Historical fiction

Number of pages: 373

Time period: 1916-1923, World War I

Publisher and price: Harvest House Publishers, $13.99

My overall opinion: What a delightful book this turned out to be! I enjoyed getting to know the entire Danforth family so much. If you’ve heard anything about this book, you’ve probably heard that any fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy it. Having not yet seen Downton Abbey myself, I can’t speak to the truth of that statement – but from what I’ve read, I think it’s probably true. Certainly, anyone with an interest in World War I fiction will find this an interesting book! There were a lot of characters, and especially at the beginning, I had a bit of trouble keeping them apart. However, there was also at the beginning a Cast of Characters sheet – which I ignored, as I hate flipping back and forth to that kind of thing. So it’s at least somewhat my own fault that I had any confusion. As the book continued, however, I grew quite familiar with all of them, and attached to many. There was plenty of excitement and unexpected plot turns. This book will keep you guessing! Ashton Park – overall, a good book that I’ll keep in my library. Definitely anticipating the next one! Recommending for any fans of World War I fiction, period dramas.

**The author sent me a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not recompensed in any other way for this review, and wasn’t required to be positive.**

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blog Tour: Fortress of Mist

Author: Sigmund Brouwer

Genre: Adventure

Series: Merlin’s Immortals

Number in series: 2nd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 217

Time period: 1300s

Publisher and price: Waterbrook Multnomah, $7.99

My overall opinion: This was a good story, aimed at tweens I suppose, set in a simply fascinating time period. It also included a very interesting cast of characters. I must admit that I highly recommend starting with the first book, The Orphan King. I wasn’t able to do this, and thus, I’m afraid that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I would have – some parts were quite confusing, but I think it’s due to my lack of background with the series. However, it’s got a good story like I said, and mystery abounds throughout its pages. Adventure too moves along quickly in this one! Completely clean, and I think I can safely recommend this series for tweens and early teens.

Read more about the author on his website.

**I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.**

Monday, April 8, 2013

Litfuse Blog Tour: When Jesus Wept

Author: Brock and Bodie Thoene

Genre: Life

Series: Jerusalem Chronicles

Number in series: 1st

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9

Type: Historical fiction

Number of pages: 328

Time period: Bible times (around 30 a.d.)

Publisher and price: Zondervan, $14.99

My overall opinion: You may have read a retelling of the story of Lazarus before…but I guarantee that it didn’t hold a candle to this particular version. Because this one? Is from Lazarus’s point of view. Before I give a few more details about that, let me mention that the amount of historical detail and accuracy in general relation to the time period in this book is simply stunning. I have been very impressed with all the research that the Thoenes have poured into all their books, including the A. D. Chronicles and the Zion Chronicles (two of my favorite series by them, especially the latter). But the detail isn’t boring at all – it’s just there, making the story realistic and enjoyable.

Now, on to the other things I noticed. I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the beginning, I picked up some of the story of Ben-Hur! If you aren’t very familiar with the book/movie, you probably won’t notice – but I’ve read and watched it enough that I caught it. And it totally made me happy because it was worked in so well! Another thing that was described in fascinating detail and with great (though reasonable) imagination included the Cana wedding, where Jesus performed his first recorded miracle. I was delighted to again meet Peniel, who we originally came across in the A. D. Chronicles (I think…but it’s been a while since I read them). One interesting writer’s liberty that the authors took was making Lazarus’s sister, Mary (the woman we remember as being sweet and worshipping Jesus and washing His feet with her hair) into the same woman as Mary Magdalene (who came to Jesus’ grave later on) and also making her be the woman who was caught in adultery. Remember her? The one where the leaders accused her, and demanded that she be stoned – Jesus said that the one among them who was without sin should cast the first stone. I rather doubt that Lazarus’s sister was ALL of these women, but it certainly made for an interesting concept. One other liberty that the authors took was to make Lazarus into one of the disciples who was sent to fetch a donkey colt for Jesus to ride in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I can’t recall if the disciples who are sent are specifically named or not, but I’m not sure if this is accurate.
Other than that last thing mentioned, the entire book is amazingly accurate to the Bible and very believable. Much of the dialogue with Jesus is taken straight from the Bible (perhaps with slight editing to make it read more smoothly). The Thoenes are still writing strong, and I look forward to more books in this series!

**Litfuse sent me a copy of this book in return for my honest review. I received no other compensation. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I was not required to post a positive review.**

Celebrate the release of When Jesus Wept with the Thoenes by entering their iPad Mini giveaway and RSVPing to their {4/23} Facebook Author Chat party!


One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • A book club kit - 10 copies of When Jesus Wept
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "When Jesus Wept" Author Chat Party on 4/23. Connect with the Thoenes, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Jerusalem Chronicles series, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be fun giveaways - gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of When Jesus Wept and join Bodie and Brock on the evening of the April 23rd for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Lethal Legacy

Author: Irene Hannon

Genre: Suspense, adventure

Series: Guardians of Justice

Number in series: 3rd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9.5

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 351

Time period: Present

Publisher and price: Revell, $14.99

My overall opinion: I’ve waited for months to read this – ever since it came out. And it was totally worth it. SO good. If I’d known I’d enjoy it this much, I would have gone ahead and splurged on the money to buy it! Cause this is a book worth buying. Absolutely jam packed with gripping suspense that kept me riveted the whole way through. There was some sweet romance as well, but it wasn’t overmuch or overdone. I love the writing. If you’ve enjoyed suspense, romantic suspense, or any book by Irene, Lynette Eason, Dani Pettrey, Dee Henderson…give this one a try!

(Randomly, the cover...that girl? She looks remarkably like the girl in the TV show, Legend of the Seeker. Might even be the same...?)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tyndale Blog Tour: Avenged

Author: Janice Cantore

Genre: Adventure, suspense

Series: Pacific Coast Justice

Number in series: 3rd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 390

Time period: Present

Publisher and price: Tyndale, $12.99

My overall opinion: After requesting this book from Tyndale for review, I discovered Book 2 (Abducted) for free on Kindle. Since it had been on my to-read list for quite some time, I snatched it up and eagerly read it. While it wasn’t my new favorite suspense book, I did enjoy it – and am really glad that I got to read it before this one! They go together wonderfully, and I haven’t a doubt that the first pulls them all completely together. I enjoyed this one more than the second one. Incidentally, I happened to notice on the back cover that it’s categorized as a Christian romance – that’s definitely not what I’d call it. The couple who stars in the series was married by the first book, and part of what the series chronicles is their marriage’s survival/life. However, there isn’t overly much detail and it’s certainly not a super-romantic book.

Now, on to the other things about Avenged. The book had an accurate feel to it, and the action was good. However, both with this one and Abducted, I found myself disappointed with the suspense as I was hoping for an author to rank with Lynette Eason, Irene Hannon, and Dani Pettrey. I think that Janice is a good author, and has great promise – but she’s not a new favorite suspense author for me. Good books, yes. Favorite suspense, no. However, like I said, it was completely clean, good, and interesting! I have absolutely no problem recommending it to other readers. One thing I really liked about it was that it’s the same couple through the entire three book series. Of course, it helped that Carly and Nick were characters that I really enjoyed. Overall? This book and series is good, but not a
top favorite for me.

**Tyndale sent me a copy of this book in return for my honest review. I received no other compensation. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I was not required to post a positive review.**

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Movie Quote

I'm cheating today...it's not a movie (just a short YouTube video) and it's a rather strange quote (more like song lyrics). BUT. It's what I've been quoting/singing this entire day (and driving my family to utter distraction), so enjoy. ;)

DUCK! DUCK! Bubbles, bubbles, duckies...

From this video:
I laugh SO hard every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME I watch this. It is, for those of you who don't know, a parody of Taylor Swift's I Knew You Were Trouble. Which video is below. There are multiple parodies of this one...but the above is WAY best. SO FUNNY. Even if you don't know the song.
Yes, it's a weird song. And video. Be warned.
Linking up today with Little Lady from "In Sunshine & Shadows". :) Check out her blog via the link below -- it's awesome!

Movie: Les Miserables: 10th Anniversary Concert

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9

Genre: Classic, musical

Length: About 2 ½ hours

Based on: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Year it came out: 1995

My overall opinion: Well, first of all, note that this really wasn’t a movie. It was a concert, and had very little acting – a few face expressions, occasional bits of moving around. But ultimately, a concert. Music was the entire point. And yet somehow…I managed to sit and enjoy it for a full 2 ½ hours! Most remarkable. So, here’s my evaluation. :)

I preferred Hugh Jackman’s What Have I Done?. His voice was stronger and I preferred it. However, the bad guy (you know, the one who throws out Fantine) was pretty good in this. His face expressions were great, and his voice was good too! At The End of the Day was also well done.

I wasn’t much of a fan of the Fantine (Ruthie Henshall) in this version…well, specifically of her hair. She had long blond hair. However, her voice was stunning – a little deeper than Anne’s, which I liked. When she sang I Dreamed a Dream I was especially impressed. She did a great job, and I preferred her version over Anne Hathaway’s.
The song Lovely Ladies was also very expressive. Always good. I really liked Fantine and Valjean’s conversation when he saved her after the lovely ladies scene. It was pretty neat!
Okay, I admit – this Javert (Philip Quast) has almost as good a voice as my favorite Javert, Russell Crowe. And Valjean (Colm Wilkinson) did an excellent job on Who Am I?. Most impressive! Cosette as a child was okay, though in Castle on a Cloud, I preferred the new Cosette’s whispered line of “I love you” to this girl’s sung one.

Madame Thenardier (Jenny Galloway) was one of my favorite parts of this particular production. She was downright fearsome, with the perfect voice and face expressions. She would strike fear into anyone’s heart! And Messieur Thenardier (Alun Armstrong) was also amazing. He was very wiggly (delightful since many stood so still and with such boring faces) and quite perfect for the part. In fact, they were both perfect for their parts – absolutely awful! Also, sidenote, Armstrong was the one actor I was familiar with – he’s been in a ton of Dickens’ movies.

Young Gavroche (Adam Searles) has an amazing accent – how does one so young get one like that?! His solo when Javert is captured especially brought that accent out. The Barricade Boys’ Song was also pretty amazing – all I wrote down about it was “Wow.”

Javert’s Stars was very good, though I still slightly prefer Russell Crowe’s.

Enjolras! LOVE that voice. Oh my word. I basically spent every bit of his singing in a dead faint. Red & Black was SO good. I was super impressed. Unfortunately, I ended up with no strong feeling on Marius – or perhaps that’s good. He had a good voice, but I preferred Enjolras’. Then again, his was so stunning that it really isn’t fair to compare them.

As to Cosette (Judy Kuhn) and her voice…she was great! I loved her voice as well. Now, if we could put her into the 2012 movie with the looks of the 1998 girl…perfection! She did a stunning job on Heart Full of Love. And Eponine (Lea Salonga)! I was ready for anything after the cruel disappointment of her being entirely gone from the 1998 version. But here? Hooray! She was an adorable girl. I like the Asian look! I do prefer Samantha Barks, but it would take so much to beat her…this girl was great.

One Day More earned itself a heart on my paper! It was very good and a favorite from this show. Unfortunately, On My Own was not as memorable, though I loved how much Eponine was singing out with her whole heart. And then of course, there was A Little Fall of Rain. Let’s just say that this scene brought me to tears. For real. I can’t imagine what a total wreck I would’ve been if I’d actually gone to this concert. The fact that I cried over it? Means it was WELL-DONE.

Enjolras comforting Marius over Eponine’s death was so sweet. I loved that Marius actually showed how deeply he was affected by the death – I don’t think he does quite so much in other versions.
I liked Drink With Me and Bring Him Home was lovely! And then there was a lovely flute solo (or some such instrument) after the massacre at the barricades.
As to Javert’s Suicide…I wrote two things. “Impressive. WOW.” It was good. Really good. I mean, people killing themselves is always bad – but this song? And how well it was done? Very good.
There was some song about turning through the years…I rather enjoyed that as well! And then Empty Chairs and Empty Tables sung by Marius was also stunning. It was nice to have an opinion about him for once! The A Heart Full of Love reprisal by Cosette and Marius and Valjean was most delightful!
And then the whole ending…again, just wow. Do You Hear the People Sing was awesome again. A great finale. And then! Don’t stop watching just because they all begin applauding! No, I forbid you to stop there! Keep watching it’s worth it.

You see, after lots of applause, 17 Valjeans from around the world come up. 17 different Valjeans, 17 countries. And then! They sing Do You Hear the People Sing with each of them singing a line. And it all blends together seamlessly. I was so impressed!
So. Watch to the end. I also found it rather nice to have the English subtitles. There’s also a version with Spanish subtitles, which is what I watched for the first ½ until discovering the English version. Since I neither read nor speak Spanish…those were of no help. Yay for English!
In conclusion…a good concert with some good actors and some great voices. Watch it if you have an empty afternoon ahead of you!
Want to watch it and form your own opinions? It's easy, since it's on YouTube! Here you go: