Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review: Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson

I am a big fan of Tracie Peterson, this book’s author. She has written over 100 novels [and I have probably read most of them!] It is obvious she loves history and is a crazy good researcher because her stories are packed with gems of information sometimes missed in the ‘big story’ of a historical event. Her characters are very genuine and often witty, which I totally appreciate in a historical fiction story. That said, this third book in the Brides of Seattle Series was my least favorite. I think possibly, because it is a series where you DEFINITELY need to read the prior two books in order to get a full picture of the characters/events/setting.
I felt like the main character, Abrianna Cunningham presented dialogue that was much more clever and fun in the previous books than this one. In my opinion, the looming [dark] presence of Priam Welby over-dominated this book and really distracted from the playful banter between Wade & Arianna. There was a good amount of repetition in the how the characters were represented and where some of the dialogue between ‘the Aunts’ in the first book was humorous, it became kind of annoying by this book three.

 Now, that said, this is NOT a bad read. It is an appropriate story for all ages and touches on events in the past which have relevance to events of today, too. Like many of Tracie’s book, it is a battle between good & evil and reflects much of what we are battling against in today’s society. Materialism, power, greed are enduring struggles, battles fought in 1889 and still today. I would recommend this book to others with the caveat that you must read book one/two in the Brides of Seattle Series first.

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

The book ‘A Worthy Pursuit’ by Karen Witemeyer is a really good read. Charlotte is the kind of main character/heroine that a reader can really rally around. Her motives, her reasons for acting are so good & honorable. She dearly loves the children in her care, those who might be considered “the least of these” according to the Word. The way in which Stone enters the story is really fun and a great introduction to the back-and-forth relationship/feelings between the two main characters. The children in the story are precious and Mr. Dobson’s protectiveness hilarious, at times.

The inclusion of music as a balm to one’s soul/a place to seek shelter seems especially realistic. The author writes, “The music became a prayer, the groans of her spirit that were too complex for words.” Such a good illustration of worshipping & sitting at the feet of God in a personal way. He uses so many different manners to reach into our hearts, personal to each one and I think the author did a really admirable job of expressing this.
There is just the right amount of anticipation which builds throughout the book, a perfect degree of twists & turns which make this a very fun read. I have always appreciated Witemeyer’s stories and this one did not disappoint. Book is appropriate for all ages.

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest review.

Book Review: After a Fashion by Jen Turano

Product Details

The book 'After a Fashion' by Jen Turano is a good read. The author delivers again on just the right combination of historical details, believable romance and humor. Speaking of humor, the banter between Oliver and Harriet is very witty and roommate/lady's maid, Mille, is plain hilarious. This character is so craftily constructed and I found myself especially anticipating the chapters where she played a role and often referenced her always-in-hand dictionary.

My only minor critiques are (1) the far-fetched connection between Harriet and the Duke's family [light on detail here so as to not 'spoil' the story and (2) that Miss Peabody's dream of opening a shop selling refashioned gowns to the working class was not expanded upon in more detail.

A very easy read, a very fun read by an excellent author. Appropriate for all ages.

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest review.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

Oh…this is a good one! For starters, it takes place in a library which is one of my most favorite places. And the main characters [Luke & Anna] are relate-able. With difficult pasts but not rags-to-riches circumstances but through hard work & dedication they’ve established careers which give them satisfaction. And both Luke & Anna love books which I think is a fun thing to have in common.

Camden does a great job with character development, creating characters which fit perfectly into the storyline without seeming as if she purposely created them with solely that intent. The thread of intrigue throughout is really good, and again, not too over the top. I loved how Anna researched the facts and searched through the details in many different governmental departments – an illustration for not taking only one writing as fact but using the expertise of many to solve a mystery.
The illustration of political life was insightful and the author showed the perspective of many different individuals -- those staring their careers, those who were in the midst of selfishly fighting for their own agendas, those who were patriarchs in the city & had earned the respect of many, etc.
I really enjoyed the intelligent, witty & fun banter between the two characters and especially the fact that Anna, who could definitely be defined as an introvert, tossed the first barb with her whispered words. And how Luke pursued her with such carefulness, despite their differences in social standing at the time.

Just a really enjoyable story for an amazingly talented author. Recommended/appropriate for all ages.

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest review.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling

To Everything a Season (Song of Blessing)Okay. I am a huge Lauraine Snelling fan. She is an incredibly talented author and I have loved, loved, loved some of her books. But this one, it was just okay. Mainly because it was once again based on characters living in Blessing, North Dakota. She has written so much about the Bjorklund family in her other books/series that this is definitely NOT a stand-alone book. It seemed that much of the book was giving back-story on the characters from Snelling’s previous books. There are so many characters & to keep everyone’s relationship correct in my mind, I referenced the enormous family tree at the front of the book in almost every chapter. I like stories with integrated characters but for me, this was simply too much.

Adding to this was the fact that the REAL story [or what I thought to be the real story] between Trygve and Mariam didn’t begin until mid-way thru the book. So while reading the first chapters, it was like you were waiting & waiting for the actual story to begin. And then it DID begin and then you were left in limbo at the end of the story. If the conclusion of a book is not satisfying, ugh, that is just a bummer.

This is a very non-essential element mostly but a personal source of irritation when reading a book is a difficult to pronounce name for the ‘main’ character. Not that I read the book outloud but when reading silently, you still pronounce the words. Trygve is pronounced Trig-Vee and I found myself stumbling over this name again & again.

So, while I do not necessarily recommend this book, I do recommend Lauraine Snelling as an author. Read her other books/series – Red River of the North, Return to Red River, Daughters of Blessing and Home to Blessing.

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest review.

Book Review: Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund

Product DetailsJody Hedlund is a talented author. As a non-mystery book reader, her books have just enough intrigue to keep the pages turning without leaving me confused as to what is going on. I like storylines based on historical facts and especially appreciate when an author identifies which components of the story are factual and which ones he/she took liberty with [Hedlund includes these details in her Author’s Note]. I like how this author takes lesser known pockets of history and creates an intriguing story.

I really liked the characters Emma & Patrick and the rambunctious toddler, Josiah, reminded me much of my own. The one character in the story which I found to be difficult was Bertie – her behavior was too mean-spirited for me, too overtly vicious that it was hard to imagine Emma would actually confide in her as a friend. That said, a valid example of how gossip can tarnish relationships.

I found the relationship between Emma & Patrick to be sweet but TOO fast-moving [yes, that was based on circumstances but altogether unrealistic]. The respect Patrick showed towards Emma and the other women in his life was admirable. Because of the romance involved in this book, I would not recommend it to young readers.

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest review.

Monday, January 5, 2015

S.Family Christmas

All together for one more year to celebrate Christmas! Good times at Grandpa/Grandma's where we had scrumptious meals, the grands put on a really sweet play about the true reason for giving, and the weather allowed for some outside football time, too [which was a highlight for our little guy!]. Plenty of noise, plenty of controlled chaos and plenty of memories made. 


Baby's First Dolly

In the past year, I have come to realize some of the special moments of being a mommy to a little girl. I really did not think having a boy/girl would make a difference [and I'm not insinuating that one is better than another] but I have found myself a wee-bit sentimental about some of the "mommy to a baby girl" moments. Giving Ellyana her first dolly for Christmas was one of those moments. So very thankful to God for this gift of a baby girl.


Christmas Eve & Christmas Morning

So very fun to sometimes be "at home" on Christmas Eve/Morning and celebrate family traditions of our own. We opened stockings on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning woke in new PJs to eat cinnamon caramel pecan rolls before going to church. Some of these pictures are not so good [funky lighting] but the memories made are awesome!





Family Wedding!

So the weekend before Christmas, my cousin Matthew married his beautiful bride, Kristyn. The wedding was at the church where I went with my grandma Z. many times as a child and the reception was at a [relatively] new facility in my hometown. It was fun, classy and so good to be with family & extended family for the day. Here are a few pictures of the behind-the-scenes activities as I am realizing I did not even get a shot of the bride/groom.

The "Younger" Girl Cousins [...and they let me!] 
Time has taken us far & near but always will be family. this daddy/daughter capture!

Handsome boys & Civil War history buffs!

More H.Family Christmas

We had a "waffle bar" with homemade sausage for breakfast [yummy!] and the U.Kevin/A.Jolynn invited the gang over to their new farm to burn off some "after-presents" energy. Grandpa read an interactive Christmas story & grandma helped with a fun craft-y project. We ended the night with sandwiches, empanadas, chips & cheese, cookies & ice cream. A good, good day! So fun to be together.

H.Family Christmas

Annual family photographs. We added two little girls this year, Ellyana [May] and Devery [September]. As you can see from the family pictures, Devery is a pretty "chill" little girl and Elly, well, not so much!
It was so good to be together, having hearts of gratitude for the way God has walked with us each thru the past year. For me, it was especially sweet watching the big kids [EGH family] make the little ones feel extra special with their attention & willingness to play.