Monday, March 25, 2013

The Chance: A Novel by Karen Kingsbury

cover of The Chance by Karen Kingsbury shows a small bundle of letters tied with a red ribbon laying at the foot of a treeThe Chance: A Novel by Karen Kingsbury. Howard Books, 2013. 352p. (9781341647034)

Last fall I read my first ever Karen Kingsbury novel. How could I not? The Bridge centered around a bookshop. Little did I know when I requested to review this book that it was ever so slightly tied to the other book.

Goodreads Summary:
In The Chance, New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury delves deeply into a theme that resonates with us all: It’s never too late for those willing to take a chance.

Years ago, the day before Ellie moved from Georgia to California, she and her best friend Nolan sat beneath the Spanish moss of an ancient oak tree where they wrote letters to each other, and sealed them in a rusty old metal box. The plan was to return eleven years later and read them. But now, as that date arrives, much has changed. Ellie, bereft of the faith she grew up with, is a single mom living in a tired apartment trying to make ends meet. Sometimes she watches television to catch a glimpse of her old friend —Nolan, now an NBA star, whose terrible personal tragedies fueled his faith and athletic drive in equal measure. But Nolan also suffers from a transcendent loneliness that nothing has ever eased.

My Review:
While not exactly a short book, I still managed to read it in two sittings last night. (Watched part of Enchanted in between with my roommate.) When I was halfway through I was surprised that I still had just as much left to read since it seemed like the story shouldn’t take that long to wrap up. Yet despite that, the first part didn’t feel rushed and the second half didn’t feel too drawn out.

It only felt drawn out while waiting with a character for something to finally happen and since his wait was a long one, it’s perfectly acceptable that our wait is as well.

At times parts of the story seemed unbelievable and unlikely to really happen, but the way the author wrote the characters made the actions and decisions more plausible. Though Nolan is a bit too good to be true.

Sin is ugly and can cause a huge mess. And it doesn’t only affect the sinner, but also those around the individual. The Tucker family is a perfect example of this. And they are also a great example of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) and of Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.” (NIV)

A clean romance with a few kisses. The story does include out of wedlock children but those scenes are not included and the children are cherished.

All in all, The Chance is a well told tale of a family that has to learn how to forgive, trust and love again. Several times it almost made me cry and it certainly made me smile several times.  

The Chance by Karen Kingsbury is earns a 4 - worth the read and the re-read

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission. 
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Montana Rose by Mary Connealy

cover of Montana Rose by Mary Connealy shows a red cowboy hat sitting on a sign with the book title; the sign is in a wheat field with snow capped mountains in the distanceMontana Rose by Mary Connealy. Barbour, 2009. 318p. (9781602601420) Series: Montana Marriages, #1

This was the second book by Mary Connealy that I have read. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the other book, so I didn’t know how I’d like this book/series. No need to worry. It’s fun series that made me laugh aloud several times. Of the three books, I liked Montana Rose and Husband Tree best. But Flower Bride was a nice wrap to the series.

Goodreads Summary:
Fire up your love of romance with Montana Rose, where Cassie Griffin, a seemingly spoiled pregnant woman, is widowed one day and wedded the next. Marrying handyman Red Dawson seems the only alternative to Cassie being hitched to a brutal rancher. But can this china doll, bear exchanging smooth silk for coarse calico? Red was reluctant to be yoked to an unbeliever, but sometimes a man has no choice. Will Red change Cassie's heart by changing her name? Wade Sawyer is obsessed with saving Cassie from a marriage of convenience. How far will he go make her his own?

My review:
As you know, I do enjoy marriage-of-convenience stories and this one takes the cake. Usually both parties are in need of help or a partner or for proprieties sake they have to be married.

Not this time, Cassie is faced with a mob of lusting men who wants to marry her (even though she’s visibly pregnant) and despite his better judgment Red claims her to save her from the unruly lot. Often times historical romance focuses on the girl but in this tale we really learn a lot about Red’s character. He makes a great book hero.

Over the past few months I’ve read a few stories that deal with spousal abuse, in this case Cassie’s first husband was emotionally manipulative and completely brainwashed her. The story makes it more understandable how people can be brainwashed and how difficult it is to relearn how to think and act and have initiative.

The romance is clean and sweet, characters struggle with real life problems and biblical principles are brought into the story in a non preachy way. The drama with Wade keeps you turning the pages and it's quite fun to learn so many life lessons along side Cassie.

Montana Rose gets a four star rating
A four star rating, although it's a fluff book (which according to my scale would be three, but... it's better than three stars)

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Remember - Anytime you visit or or use an affiliate link to get there. Any purchase you make from a link on my site generates a small kickback. You need not purchase the item I'm featuring, any purchase counts. It costs you nothing extra and is an easy way to support this site.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson. Zondervan, 2013. 335p. (9780310724391)

I really enjoyed this story! In a fun twist Fairest Beauty ties into Melanie Dickerson’s previous book The Healer’s Apprentice; although if you haven’t read it I don’t want to spoil the story for you.

Goodreads Summary:
Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.

When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.

My review:
The author does a great job retelling the classic fairy tale of Snow White while also infusing it with plenty of faith and gentle reminders about loving one’s enemy and listening to God’s guidance.

The story really pulled me in and for a while I was on the horse riding through the woods and not lying on my bed reading. I usually get completely absorbed by a story but in this case I can still vividly picture the scene in the forest.

The pace of the book was great right until the last chapter or two, then it felt a bit rushed and matters seemed to be settled and sorted out rather quickly and conveniently. But it did fit the story. I probably just wanted the ending drawn out a bit more so as to rejoice with Sophie more. But as Tolkien said in The Hobbit:
Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. (pg 51, chap 3)

The books don’t really have to be read in any particular order, but if you can, I’d recommend reading The Healer’s Apprentice before reading The Fairest Beauty.

four butterflies means Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson is rated "worth the read and the re-read"

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 
Remember - Anytime you visit or or use an affiliate link to get there. Any purchase you make from a link on my site generates a small kickback. You need not purchase the item I'm featuring, any purchase counts. It costs you nothing extra and is an easy way to support this site.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I'd like to start but haven't yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Series I'd Like To Start But Haven't Yet

1. The Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan

The kids at school love those and I haven't read any yet.

2. The Ballentyne Legacy series by Laura Frantz
cover of Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz shows a woman in a green dress with the sunrise behind her
 The first book came out last fall. And the next will come out later this year.

3. Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis
Book #1: Out of the Silent Planet
Book #2:  Perelandra
Book #3: That Hideous Strength

4.  The Queen's Thief by Megan Turner 
cover of The Thief by Megan Turner is book one in the Queen's Thief series shows two hands holding a stone pendant with a blue crystal in the middle
An author whose work I love, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, recommended this series on her blog quite a while ago. didn't realize there were four books until I looked it up just now.
Book #1: The Thief
Book #2:  The Queen of Attolia
Book #3: The King of Attolia
Book #4: A Conspiracy of Kings

5.  Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler
I got the ebooks for free a year ago and still haven't read them. 
Book #1: The Wretched of Muirwood
Book #2: The Blight of Muirwood
Book #3: The Scourge of Muirwood

6. Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan
cover of The Outcasts by John Flanagan book one in the Brotherband Chronicles shows a viking hanging onto a ships' rope
I did start the Ranger's Apprentice that several boys at school love and Brotherband is a companion series.
Book #1: The Outcasts
Book #2: The Invaders
Book #3: The Hunters

7. DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul

cover of DragonFire by Donita K. Paul book four in the DragonKeeper Chronicles shows a firebreathing dragon against a red background
Dragons make for great fantasy tales! 
Book #1: DragonSpell
Book #2:  DragonQuest
Book #3: DragonKnight
Book #4: DragonFire
Book #5: DragonLight

8. Inkworld by Cornelia Funke

I think I've listed the first book as being on my TBR list on this blog. I've seen parts of the movie and the fact that this was first written in German makes me want to read them more.
Book #1: Inkheart
Book #2:  Inkspell
Book #3: Inkdeath

9. Avenue of Dreams series by Olivia Newport
cover of The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport shows a woman in a grey dress standing on a street with the 1893 Chicago World Fair off in the distance
This sounds like a great series in the late 1890s America, plus the covers are captivating.
Book #1: The Pursuit of Lucy Banning
Book #2: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow
Book #3: The Invention of Sarah Cummings (not released yet)

10. What series do you want to start but haven't yet?

Remember - Anytime you visit or or use an affiliate link to get there. Any purchase you make from a link on my site generates a small kickback. You need not purchase the item I'm featuring, any purchase counts. It costs you nothing extra and is an easy way to support this site.

Monday, March 4, 2013

End of Reading Fiction Fast

The 40 day fast is over. As of Saturday I can read fiction again. And I proceeded to read four books this weekend. I didn’t manage to finish that many books in the past 40 days though.

I finished two – Willard Grenfel and Betty Greene both by Janet and Geoff Benge and am almost done Crazy Love by Francis Chan and am half way through The Mold on Dr. Florey’s Coat. Plus on Wednesday I started a children’s biography about Ghengis Khan I forgot at school and thus didn’t finish. Oh, and I did finally finish Joel Rosenberg’s book, Israel at War, that was released ebook only last fall.

My mom is right, I don’t read enough nonfiction, but that’s because I can read fiction much faster and I really enjoy getting lost in the story. Reading one or two biographies or other nonfiction books a month would be a good goal…`

I have really enjoyed the biography series for youth written by Janet and Geoff Benge. They have written about men and women that have been forgotten but once were well known. The further reading suggestions at the end show that they’ve often found primary sources and that they’ve done their research.

My apologies for not posting very much over the past month, but I found myself avoiding blogging and reading other book blogs just so I wouldn’t keep reading about all the great fiction that I was staying away from.

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