Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hurt

by Travis Thrasher
David C. Cook

His Rebellion Will Soon Turn to Hope.

When Chris Buckley first encountered the mysteries of creepy Solitary, North Carolina, he had little idea how far he would fall into the town’s shadows. After losing the love of his life, Chris tried to do things his way. He hunted answers. Then he gave up trying to find them.

But now Chris comes back to Solitary knowing there’s a purpose for his being there. As he watches his place in a twisted and evil bloodline become clear, Chris waits for the last battle—and wonders who will be left when he finally makes his stand.

The fourth and final book in the Solitary Tales shines light into deep darkness as Chris’s journey to Solitary comes to a dramatic close.

My Review:

Turning that final page of Hurt really makes me feel like my life is over. My life in Solitary has come to an end, and never again will I be a first-time spectator. The ending isn't at all what I expected it to be, yet I was pleasantly surprised that there is a hole left by the absence of my daily forage into the town of Solitary. 

At this point, I am pretty well acquainted with Chris and his turmoil, and I was just as anxious to find out where Thrasher was taking me. This amazing author doesn't disappoint. Chris's vision is finally clear, and he understands where he falls into the past and future of Solitary. I've very literally dragged this series out for eight weeks. As a reader who reads at least a book a day, that was a tough thing to do. But I wanted to savor every word, every page, and every new experience. 

I have to admit that for the first time in my life, I've slightly fallen in love with a male literary character. And a man-child no less. I've read about Chris's deepest fears and biggest mistakes, and I am going to miss the quirky fellow. Chris is a guy who tries to do right, and often ends up involved in something he had no intention of being a part of. I am going to miss him, his friends and family, and the town of Solitary. I've never been so emotionally involved in a story as much as I have this one, and for that Thrasher, I thank you. 

And finally, for those of you reading my words, give this series, this genre, and this author a chance. Thrasher will not disappoint you or let you down. His words will inspire you, teach you things you will never forget, and take you places that you will never regret.  

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Temptation

by Travis Thrasher
David C. Cook

The third book in the Solitary Tales series for young adults, Temptation follows the soul-wrenching twists of Chris Buckley’s journey as he heads deeper into a darkness that threatens all he loves best.

As a reluctant student at Harrington High’s summer school, Chris meets a fun-loving senior girl who offers a welcome diversion from Chris’s past. Soon Chris no longer searches for the truth about the town of Solitary. He no longer tries to pierce its shadows. He no longer questions his role in its mysteries. He makes a new choice: he runs. What he doesn't realize is that he’s running the wrong way—and is very close to being beyond any choices at all.

My Review:

In this stunning third installment to the Solitary Tales Series, Chris's experiences in town are escalating to a breaking point. Solitary is nonchalantly covering up murder, dabbling in the occult, and a multitude of other sins. Chris is numb to the idea that evil lurks within, and rather than continue his search, he just lets it go. So many times in this novel I just wanted to scream at him to dig deeper, to look harder, to not give up.

The answers Chris was searching for have finally found him. Unwillingly, he is drawn to the secrets that have seemed to evade him from the beginning, and he is powerless to keep from being sucked under. Supernatural elements are at play, and Thrasher portrays everything in a completely believable light despite the absolute impossibility of some situations. 

Thrasher continues to amaze and enthrall with his stories, and you will never see the world in the same light again. That dark, foreboding feeling stays with you throughout the book as it has done from the beginning, and no matter who you are, or what your age, everyone can enjoy and take away something from the Solitary Tales.

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Gravestone

by Travis Thrasher
David C. Cook

His Fear Will Soon Turn to Anger….

At first, Chris Buckley was simply warned. And watched. But as Chris unravels the haunting riddles of the town of Solitary, he finds that much more than the life of a town is at stake.

Whether facing a pastor with a house full of skeletons or a cousin he never knew existed, Chris is forced to choose between light and darkness, life and nightmarish death. Every choice he makes reminds him that the unthinkable has already happened—and if he trusts the wrong person, it may happen again.

This second book in the Solitary Tales continues Chris’s journey toward finding out who he is and what his own role is in the darkness suffocating his tiny new hometown. Filled with shocking twists, Gravestone is a tale of a teenager thrown into a battle over a town, a secret—and ultimately his own soul.

My Review:

I'm not going to lie. Thrasher scares me. He's not just a scary, good writer, but he actually terrifies me with his stories. I am blown away by the level of reality Thrasher brings to his novels with just words, and what depth of terror he invokes with a stroke of his pen. So many questions were left unanswered with the first novel in the series, and though Gravestone answers some of them, we are still left with an eerie sense of disquiet and unrest. 

The atmosphere of this novel was dark, and ominous. So much in fact, that I read during daylight hours only. Thrasher pushes us deeper into the turmoil of Chris's life in Solitary; that dark, frightening, little town where absolutely nothing makes sense, yet feels like a safe haven for many. Chris is still a little whiny, but after all he's been through, I really don't blame him!

The biggest question of all remains, and it is to my credit that I have the rest of the series at my disposal. I am fearful to continue reading, yet the mysteries not yet revealed call to me through me through the pages of modern literature, beckoning me to enter therein and discover all their secrets... 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Solitary

by Travis Thrasher
David C. Cook Publishers

His Loneliness Will Soon Turn to Fear….

When Chris Buckley moves to Solitary, North Carolina, he faces the reality of his parents’ divorce, a school full of nameless faces—and Jocelyn Evans. Jocelyn is beautiful and mysterious enough to leave Chris speechless. But the more Jocelyn resists him, the more the two are drawn together.

Chris soon learns that Jocelyn has secrets as deep as the town itself. Secrets more terrifying than the bullies he faces in the locker room or his mother’s unexplained nightmares. He slowly begins to understand the horrific answers. The question is whether he can save Jocelyn in time.

This first book in the Solitary Tales series will take you from the cold halls of high school to the dark rooms of an abandoned cabin—and remind you what it means to believe in what you cannot see.

My Review:

Thrasher, as always, creates a story that you cannot help but fall in love with. He creates a world set apart, a word that cannot be escaped, and a world that will always be a part of you. I can't even begin to describe the feelings that arose from reading this novel; of mystery, madness, evil, darkness, derangement, and a fear that clutches at you just by continuing to read. 

Thrasher always puts out good material. No fluff or minced words, but solid characters, settings that are believable, and a final chapter that will leave you disturbed. I'm not certain that being disturbed is a good way to end a novel, but to Thrasher's credit, he is consistent with all of his work. I can't say I've ever walked away from one of his stories with a clear head mind and clean conscience. He makes me doubt that I am living a Godly life, and convicts me to greater heights. 

Thrasher forces me to think, to re-evaluate all that I know and believe. He examines the human condition at it's very heart, and he is a relentless hunter that always finds his mark. I would highly recommend this novel to young people of all ages, as it has a powerful message that will speak to readers everywhere.  

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Katie's Forever Promise

by Jerry S. Eicher
Harvest House Publishers

In book 3 of the Emma Raber's Daughter series, Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher brings the faith-filled journey of Katie Raber to its happy conclusion.

Katie Raber is trying to put her life back together after Ben Stoll's devastating betrayal of her love. When she is baptized into the church, she receives a surprising offer that will keep her close to her Amish community--much to her mother's delight.

But soon Ben is back in her life again--and at the same time she finds interest from another young man, though his bumbling efforts at winning her heart show him to be a far less desirable suitor than the more polished Ben Stoll.

Readers who have followed the saga of Katie and her attempts to escape the stigma of being just "Emma Raber's daughter" will be charmed by her new look at life as a young woman with important decisions to make. 

My Review:


Faith is a big part of this novel. I really enjoy that, and I appreciate an author that isn't afraid to do that. In Christian Fiction it's expected, but Eicher made it clear that it was the heartbeat of Katie's life. While the pace of the story was a little slower than the previous two in the series, but it made a very nice wrap up to the story as a whole. 

There were a lot of elements in this story that aren't part of your typical Amish fiction. Jail, abuse, drugs, are the tip of the iceberg of subject matter, and I have to say I was very pleased with this addition to the usual fare. Eicher provides a lot of insight and inspiration for anyone who is a believer, and tucks a road map into his story that is a compass of direction on how true Christians act.

Despite being Amish, Katie is a shining literary character that is a good example for all of us. She looks to the Lord for answers for life's biggest questions, and despite her fallacies as a human being, Eicher writes Katie as a person we can all look up to no matter what our present situations. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merlin's Shadow

by Robert Treskillard
Blink Publishers

Betrayal. 

After destroying the sinister Druid Stone and freeing his people from its dark control, Merlin finds himself to be a royal advisor without a king. Along with his friend Garth and Natalenya, his betrothed, Merlin treks north with the orphaned Arthur in hopes of keeping the young ruler safe from soldiers misled by their turncoat captain. Relentlessly pursued by his nemesis Vortigern, Merlin and his band make for the fortress of Dintaga. 

But dangers multiply when Merlin realizes that Vortigern is not his only enemy. Even his own sister appears bent on Merlin's destruction. As the threat on all their lives increases, Merlin discovers their only hope is sailing to the lands of eternal darkness and once again cleansing the world from an ancient and powerful evil.

My Review: 

The single thing that makes this book great is the fantastic attention to detail in laying the groundwork for the novel. Everything, no matter how large or small is brought to life by the Treskillard's wonderful depictions of everything. From the dungeons to the weather conditions, the words jump right off the page and soak into your subconscious as if it was really happening. 

It is not often that I feel a book that is part of a series can be read alone, but the author brings you up to date easily and without confusion. The clarity and vividness of the writing impressed me so much, I have to keep writing about it. You never feel as if you are reading another version of the oft-told tale, but as if you are reading it through new eyes, and as if you are discovering it for the first time.  

This novel is masterfully told, with an original voice that never once is repetitive or incessantly long winded. Merlin is a character you can actually respect and admire, not someone that is just part of the required reading for the tale. You live everything as it is happening, and it is a full body experience; not just an exercise of the mind.  

This book was provided by the publisher through CSFF for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Connect with the author through his blog and website:
http://www.epictales.org/blog/robertblog.php 
http://www.KingArthur.org.uk 

Check out some other blogs who reviewed this book:

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Advent Of Murder

by Martha Ockley
Lion Fiction

Faith Morgan, former policewoman and vicar of the small English village of Little Worthy, goes to visit one of her parishioners at his farm, only to discover the house surrounded by police cars. A body has been found in the local river and farmer Markham is charged with murder.
Though busy with preparations for Christmas, Faith is called on to investigate when it’s found out that the victim is also a member of her congregation—Lucas Kemp, a member of the choir.
Faith’s informal inquiries lead her to uncover a hotbed of tensions and romantic rivalries in the choir, questions about drugs, and a run-in with an unsavory uncle—which leads to a dramatic rescue by Ben, Faith’s former detective partner and ex-boyfriend.
In the tradition of Father Brown and Miss Marple, The Advent of Murder brings readers an authentic picture of English rural and church life combined with a satisfying mystery that will keep readers guessing until the end.

My Review:

While I am not a bog fan of rural life in England, the setting of this novel really set the stage for the story. I appreciated the author's style of relating her story, and I was struck by how simple everything was. The characters and the setting were just so simple to get into, with no long explanations or tedious descriptions. The book was an effortless read because of Ockley's smooth writing, and I've got to say it was a mystery I didn't want to end. (Well, sort of.)

The hardest part for me was trying to figure out who was the killer. I usually have a good guess as to who it is, but this time I just drew a blank. I thought I had the culprit pinned at one point, but I was wrong. I would recommend this book to anyone who like cozy mysteries, and this is a very refreshing British version that just keeps you turning pages. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Captives

by Jill Williamson
Blink Publishers

One choice could destroy them all. 

When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he'd find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many---including his fiancee, Jem---taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe. 

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago ... and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar's dreams. 

Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands' walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands' facade before it's too late?

My Review:

This was quite the disturbing book. I like writers that think outside the box, and challenge me mentally, but Williamson took the cake with this one! This is a book that will definitely appeal to teen readers, and older readers as well. The characters are interesting, the setting is is wonderful, and the plot is possible and impossible all at once. I was impressed by how many times I had to remind myself that it was just a story, and then scoff and think that the story line was completely improbable. While that seems like a negative thing to say, I enjoy a novel that draws me in, yet has elements that aren't altogether plausible. I enjoyed this book because it was creative, interesting, and ingenious. A very stimulating read for readers of any age and genre. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter In Full Bloom

by Anita Higman
River North Publishers

Lily Winter's wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily's lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she'd been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.
Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by an imprudent Aussie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.

My Review:

There is something wrong with all the people in this story, and for that, we the readers, thank Higman from the bottom of our hearts. I've read some stories where the characters had past hurts, past sins to hide, and things they were still dealing with that affects them at the time of the story. A little baggage is necessary for dramatic stories, and for setting a backdrop to the tale. 

But this novel just blew me away with the family drama and terrible pasts. While a little bit of not-so-great past is what makes novels great, Winter In Full Bloom just takes the prize on messed up families and damaged relationships. I couldn't believe that people so damaged can even function, much less forge new friendships and renew family alliances. 


There is something wrong with each of the characters - desperately wrong. I wanted to fix them all, but I was helpless to help them as I watched them traverse the waters of new life. So many times I wanted to shake them and demand that they look to the One who could heal them of their pain, but I am not so good at that myself. I related to so many themes in this book, and despite the ugliness of life, there was also healing from the God who watches over us no matter where we walk. A somewhat depressing and dark novel, but one of those books you just can't put down. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Captive Maiden

by Melanie Dickerson
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Happily Ever After ...Or Happily Nevermore? Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke's son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

My Review:

Let me start by saying that I really don't care for the traditional Cinderella story. Even as a child I really wished someone would create a story that had all the traditional elements, then mix it up for a completely different re-telling. Dickerson has done it. She has created a story that fairy tale lovers and haters can both enjoy and relish for different reasons. 

First, Dickerson did not stick to the Cinderella script/road map. I liked this primarily because while the novel is familiar, it is in no way an imitation of the original. It is a clever retelling, with all the familiar markers that make it such an appealing fairy tale to millions. 

Second, the characters in this book are very well written, despite the main characters being portrayed as almost perfect human beings. But "fairly tales" are two words that are supposed to allude to perfection, beauty, and second chances despite impossible situations. Even with the almost perfection of Valten and Gisela, the secondary characters are something to rave about. ALL of them. (Nope, not going to tell.)

Lastly, I was impressed by how much "preachy stuff" was in this writing. This is something books can never have too much of, and what might be considered as excessive by the world, was just right for me. Dickerson wrote Gisela and Valten as Believers, and watching them grow in faith was amazing. Just the right sort of book to give your young adults, and something I can't wait to share with my future teenage children.  

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bound To A Promise

by Bonnie Floyd
Creative Enterprises Studio

At six o'clock on a cold, foggy morning in Fresno, California, Bonnie Floyd's horrific nightmare began . . . but she was wide-awake! This may sound like the beginning of a fiction thriller, but it isn't. This is a true story, and the nightmare was all too real. Life as Bonnie had known it was over, and the future she faced was unimaginable . . . unspeakable. Bound to a Promise is a nonfiction novel, told in fascinating, page-turning fiction style. This astonishing true story will grab you with the first sentence and hold you captive until the very last page. Based on Scotland Yard's investigation, newspaper reports, court transcripts, and eyewitness accounts, Bound to a Promise has it all-exotic settings, courtroom drama, real-life adventure, convicting testimony, and puzzling mystery. The key to this disturbing drama hangs on a very crucial and binding promise made to Bonnie. Did the promise maker keep that promise or was there a chance it was broken? The answer to that burning question had everlasting consequences both for the one who made the promise and to whom the promise was made. This shocking story is like an exciting action movie played out in powerful print. Don't be surprised if it captures your heart and you, too, become bound to a promise.

My Review:

This story was amazing. It is drama, intrigue, suspense, redemption, and forgiveness that will blow your mind. I was surprised how I felt about this book, considering I'm not a fan of memoirs. But this one was really different, and I thoroughly enjoyed the writing. 

I really liked how Bonnie included some background stories; stories of her childhood, of the early years. It really lent voice to her parents as people before they were killed, and I appreciated how Bonnie portrayed everything with honesty and frankness. 

Forgiving someone of a crime like this seems impossible, and especially since her parents may not have been believers. But the grace of God is a wonderful thing, and He always keeps His promises. Bound To A Promise is a book that is realistic, and shows what the human capacity for love truly is. 

This book was provided by the publisher through B&B Media for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Like Moonlight At Low Tide

by Nicole Quigley
Zondervan Publishers

When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor's pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom's latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.

My Review:

This was a really depressing story. That said, I found it to be very interesting as well. Maybe I'm too old for stories like this, but I found it to be rather profound and deep for YA fiction. This is just how high school is for some teenagers, how bullying affects the victims, and all I can say about Quigley's writing is WOW.

You can feel the pain in the writing. You can feel how every mistake that is made affects Melissa's life, and how she responds to that hurt. I got sucked into Josh and Melissa's stories right away, and I loved the characterization of Melissa's family and friends. I felt as if I knew the characters from somewhere, and they all felt like family. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, despite the dark feel of it. Not everything needs to be "happily ever after," and for this, I thank the author from the bottom of my heart. A dose of reality that every young person needs to read. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Little Bit of Charm

by Mary Ellis
Harvest House Publishers

A Little Bit of Charm, the third book in bestselling author Mary Ellis's New Beginnings series, is about fresh starts...and how faith in God and His perfect plans provide the peace and joy all long for.
After the death of her parents and then watching both of her older sisters find happiness in homes of their own with husbands who adore them, Rachel King yearns for a new beginning. Her cousin Sarah lives near a thoroughbred stable in Kentucky, and working around beautiful horses is Rachel's dream come true. She leaves Lancaster County to find a job at Twelve Elms Stables and believes God has answered her prayers.
And then she meets Jake, an attractive and charming Englisch man. At first she refuses to go out with him, but he eventually convinces her to give him a chance. When Amish men who also wish to date Rachel start encountering strange mishaps, she wonders if Jake is really who he seems to be.
What does a young woman do when her heart is pulled in two directions?
My Review:
The over-used story line of Amish-girl-meets-Englischer-boy never fails to amuse and captivate my attention, this novel was no exception. While I was pleased with the entertainment value, the overall character development, and the Amish setting, there were a couple things that I just couldn't get past.

First, what is an Amish girl doing riding horses in Englisch clothes and hanging out with her boss? Young Amish teenagers can run around all they like (or so it is portrayed in novels) but I can't see how hanging out with your male boss as a single young woman is just okay with everyone, no questions asked.

Second, I love learning new things in the books I read. But the glaring inaccuracies about how horses are trained, etc, was bad enough that even I knew better. I appreciate Ellis's original idea of putting an Amish girl on a horse farm. But sometimes even the most epic plans fail, and it just didn't work. Ellis's writing was wonderful as always, however, with great characters/personalities throughout.

Lastly, I was confused by the nurse trying to get the children vaccinated against polio. I was quite in the dark what that was about, and I couldn't find a reason why that was included. My final conclusion is that as I did not read the first two books, it is altogether possible I missed some vital information along the way. Four out of five stars because Ellis still made a disaster plot entertaining and an interesting story. 
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Preacher's Wife

by Brandi Boddie
Realms Publishers


Can this small-town girl trade her tarnished past for a respectable life?

During the hot, windy summer of 1870 in the burgeoning prairie town of Assurance, Kansas, Marissa Pierce is fed up with her abusive boss. She longs to start a new life and is growing weary of convincing townsfolk that she is most certainly not a prostitute.
 
Civil War veteran and preacher Rowe Winford arrives in town intent on leaving the tragic memories of his deceased family behind. Although Rowe has no plans to fall in love anytime soon, the plans of God rarely match those of man.
 
Faced with adversity and rejection from the town and Rowe’s family, can Marissa overcome her past, renew her faith, and experience the life of love that God has planned for her?

My Review:

Marissa and Rowe are as different as two people of the opposite sex can be. But one thing they share is the brokenness of their past and the pain that hovers just above the surface. I had to love this story that brought together two people that were so different, and from completely different walks of life. The writing was stellar, and an exhilarating first novel. 

The concept of this story is not far-fetched at all, and I thought the premise was lovely. A saloon girl meets the preacher sounds like the unlikeliest of romances, but I can completely see where redemption can be found for both sides to reconcile. With the themes of hope, faith, forgiveness, love and second chances, Boddie's meticulous historical research and heartfelt characters shows us that God sees us through different Eyes and loves us no matter what. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

An Elegant Solution

by Paul Robertson
Bethany House Publishers

Robertson's Latest Mix of Rich History and Deadly Murder. 

For young Leonhard Euler, the Bernoulli family have been more than just friends. Master Johann has been a demanding mentor, and his sons have been Leonhard's allies and companions. But it is also a family torn by jealousy and distrust. Father and sons are engaged in a ruthless competition for prestige among the mathematical elites of Europe, especially the greatest prize: the Chair of Mathematics at the University of Basel, which Johann holds and his sons want. And now, their aspirations may have turned deadly.

Lured into an investigation of the suspicious death of Uncle Jacob twenty years ago, Leonhard soon realizes there's more at stake than even a prominent appointment. Surrounded by the most brilliant--and cunning--minds of his generation, Leonhard is forced to see how dangerous his world is. His studies in mathematics have always been entwined with his thoughts on theology, and now, caught in a deadly battle of wills, he'll need both his genius and his faith to survive.

My review:


I would definitely place this title on the "Intellectual Intrigue" shelf. I'm more of a mystery and historical romance sort of gal, and this one was so different and distinctively colorful. Rich in descriptions and character development, it was an instant win on my list. It was a mystery, drama, sci-fi with a refreshing historical backdrop that was marvelously stunning, remarkable and brilliant. 

The attention to detail is particularly astounding, and I commend Robertson for the excellent writing that brings the life of Swiss physicist and mathematician Leonhard Euler to life. My favorite moment was when Leonhard solved the Reciprocal Squares, a problem that no one in his field was able to solve. This novel was so different than what I'm used to reading, and I was impressed all around with the story contained therein. Something different for anybody that is sick of the same drivel in writing. 

This book was provide by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stones For Bread

by Christa Parrish
Thomas Nelson Publishers

A solitary artisan. A legacy of bread-baking. And one secret that could collapse her entire identity.
Liesl McNamara’s life can be described in one word: bread. From her earliest memory, her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and the importance of this deceptively simple food. And now, as the owner of Wild Rise bake house, Liesl spends every day up to her elbows in dough, nourishing and perfecting her craft.
But the simple life she has cultivated is becoming quite complicated. Her head baker brings his troubled grandson into the bakeshop as an apprentice. Her waitress submits Liesl’s recipes to a popular cable cooking show. And the man who delivers her flour—a single father with strange culinary habits—seems determined to win Liesl’s affection.
When Wild Rise is featured on television, her quiet existence appears a thing of the past. And then a phone call from a woman claiming to be her half-sister forces Liesl to confront long-hidden secrets in her family’s past. With her precious heritage crumbling around her, the baker must make a choice: allow herself to be buried in detachment and remorse, or take a leap of faith into a new life.
Filled with both spiritual and literal nourishment, Stones for Bread provides a feast for the senses from award-winning author Christa Parrish.
"A quietly beautiful tale about learning how to accept the past and how to let go of the parts that tie you down." —RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars, TOP PICK!

My Review:

The random bread facts just threw me off. I love bits of information, and incorporated correctly, it can add to the story immensely. But in this case, it just made for an odd feel to the novel, and added to the overall depressing mood of the story. The writing style was different; direct and to the point; no eloquent turn of phrases or complicated explanations. 

That being said, the part history, part memoirs, made for a very interesting tale. It was intriguing because it was unlike anything I've ever read before, and it was unique and uncommon telling of something that almost feels as it can be true. Liesl felt rather distant, but that only added to the charm of the book. A wonderful addition to anyone's library. 

This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase your copy here: http://ow.ly/qPvoG

Connect with Christa through her website: http://christaparrish.com

Cloak Of The Light

by Chuck Black
Multnomah Books

Drew is caught in a world of light - just inches away from the dark.
What if...there was a world beyond our vision, a world just fingertips beyond our reach? What if...our world wasn’t beyond their influence?
Tragedy and heartache seem to be waiting for Drew Carter at every turn, but college offers Drew a chance to start over—until an accident during a physics experiment leaves him blind and his genius friend, Benjamin Berg, missing.
As his sight miraculously returns, Drew discovers that the accident has heightened his neuron activity, giving him skills and sight beyond the normal man. When he begins to observe fierce invaders that no one else can see, he questions his own sanity, and so do others. But is he insane or do the invaders truly exist?
With help from Sydney Carlyle, a mysterious and elusive girl who offers encouragement through her faith, Drew searches for his missing friend, Ben, who seems to hold the key to unlocking this mystery. As the dark invaders close in, will he find the truth in time?

My Review:

I had a great deal of interest in this book from just reading the description, and I was in for a treat by novel's end. It is the first book in the Wars of the Realm series, and a stellar beginning for what is to come. This was an epic war of souls that was exhilarating from the very first chapter. The unseen world between good and evil will get your pulse racing and your heart beating to the cadence of the excitement that Black weaves into the story. Part mystery, part adventure, and part spiritual truth, Cloak of the Light will keep your mind reeling, your imagination alive, and you will fall in love. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Christmas Quilt

by Vanetta Chapman
Abingdon Press

Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

My Review:

I know it's probably wrong to find enjoyment from Adam and Leah's marital problems, but it made the story so much more interesting. It wasn't the typical Amish story, and I enjoyed the well-written description of the quilt that was in the making by Annie. The nine squares represent the nine gifts of the spirit, and I thought it was beautifully detailed. 

Between all the drama of one couple's relationship issues, the dramatic baby story, and the way nothing seems to go right; the author clearly states that God is a vital part of these stories. This novel is all about learning to love, even though I wouldn't say it is a romance. 

This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase your copy here: http://ow.ly/qKnYD

Read more about the series here: http://www.quiltsoflovebooks.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Moses Quilt

by Kathi Macias
New Hope Publishers

The Moses Quilt, a contemporary novel that bridges racial and generational divides, gives a clear presentation of the gospel as readers are introduced to a confused and apprehensive Mazie Hartford. Mazie is facing major decisions about the love of her life and her future. Her great-grandmother comes to her rescue when she shows her the Moses quilt. As she learns that each patch represents a story of courage and freedom, Mazie finds the courage and freedom to make the right choices for her life.

My Review:

This novel is very slow paced in parts, but the end result is worth it! Edward and Mazie are an inter-racial couple, and I was frustrated that it wasn't made known from the beginning. It was alluded to, and hinted at, but Macias didn't come right out and say it till later in the book. Race is still somewhat of a controversial topic, and I think as a culture/society we should all be way past all that. Macias takes it all in stride and gives a realistic look at what it is like, even today, for couples that are different because of race, culture, etc.

The quilt bears mentioning, and I particularly enjoyed the way Macias presented this aspect of the story. I think it may be hard for some readers to be patient with the telling of the quilt story, but I enjoyed how Mimi told the story in snatches as her life fades away. Granted, I wasn't happy she was dying, but I appreciated the way that the story was told in fragments; piece by piece, bit by bit. The background history on Harriet Tubman was also fascinating, and overall, this book was wonderful!

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley

by Katherine Reay
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.
But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.
As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.
Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.
“Dear Mr. Knightley is a stunning debut—a pure gem with humor and heart.” —Serena Chase,USA Today
Includes Reading Group Guide
Plus Bonus Material: Q &A with Katherine Reay and Sam’s Reading List

My Review:

I started this novel with the mindset that the the Austen references were just that: references. I wasn't expecting any characters from Austen's writing to show up, but I was a little confused as to how the title was going to play out in the course of the book. I loved the concept of this book, I really did. But I found it kinda creepy that a benefactor of offering to put a twenty-three through college, and all she has to do is write him letters. I know it wasn't meant to be weird, but it just didn't seem right. 

I will say that they way Reay presented the characters and her writing style was exemplary. The setting and situations were not to my liking, but the overall feel of the book was excellent. I really like the way Reay set up her debut novel, and comprised it entirely of Sam's letters to Mr. Knightley. I enjoyed how Sam developed as a person, from her humble beginnings, to the satisfying ending. A very enjoyable read once you get past the initial way things happen. 

This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase your copy here: http://ow.ly/qDEkp 

Connect with Katherine through her website: http://katherinereay.com