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Saturday, September 16, 2017

My review of Loving Luther by Allison Pittman

About the book:

Germany, 1505
In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her.

Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows--a choice more practical than pious--but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?

In her first true step of faith, Katharina leaves the only life she has ever known. But the freedom she has craved comes with a price, and she finds she has traded one life of isolation for another. Without the security of the convent walls or a family of her own, Katharina must trust in both the God who saved her and the man who paved a way for rescue. Luther's friends are quick to offer shelter, but Katharina longs for all Luther has promised: a home, a husband, perhaps even the chance to fall in love.

My review:

Allison Pittman's writing is always engaging. When Tyndale House offered me a free ARC to review, I accepted because I've never read a book by Pittman that I didn't enjoy. I love how the author puts you inside the head of a young girl who was sent to the convent because her family couldn't afford to keep her. I related well to the young Katharina von Bora. 

I love how the author made me care about Katie's first experience with what she thought was "love." Her sense of abandonment when her prospective husband didn't follow through after initiating a  tender romance and many kisses devastates her... at first. Katie is not one to give up, and on good days she's typically very polite and controlled.

The expectation of her generation (1500s) was for her (the weaker sex) to marry. That way she would be under a husband's protection, which weighed heavily on her heart. Finding the right husband was no simple matter. Luther trying to set her up with eligible men didn't help.

I felt spiritually liberated along with Katie when she started reading the scriptures provided by Luther. Because they were written in her native tongue they were easily understood.  Faith elements were seamlessly woven into the novel and felt natural to the time period. I  loved reading about her new experiences that generated from her liberated life and the fresh perspective she found outside the convent walls.  

This story had believable conflict sprinkled throughout. It held my attention and I enjoyed it enough to finish it. The best part was their mutual attraction and the fact that they both liked each other but neither considered the other as a potential candidate. At least, not at first. Anyway, great story.

Loving Luther was published by Tyndale House and released this month (Sept 2017.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My review of Truly, Madly, Famously by Rebecca Serle

About the book:

Lights, camera, love!

After being plucked from obscurity, Hollywood’s newest starlet, Paige Townsen, has a hit film to her name and Rainer Devon on her arm. But being half of the world’s most famous couple comes with a price. No matter where Paige goes, someone is always watching. Soon she finds herself dodging photographers; hiding her feelings for her other costar, Jordan Wilder; and navigating tabloid scandals that threaten to tear her and Rainer apart—and end her career as quickly as it began.

As she navigates her new L.A. life in this sequel to Famous in Love, Paige finds that she doesn’t know who to trust: Old friends could be betraying her secrets, and new friends are keeping secrets of their own.

My review:

I ordered this book because after watching season 1, I wanted to see how everything ended. I really didn't know what was going to happen. The main character matured a lot in the second book, but Paige lost some of her innocence that made her so loveable in the first book.

I have seen this happen in real life where people hang on to relationships because they don't want to hurt the person they are with, but not because they really love them. You only live once so allow yourself to love the person that makes your heart throb, not the one that makes you feel more safe than loved. That's what I got our of the story, anyway.

The main theme of this book is to be true to yourself and not do what others expect or want. That's living a falsehood and hurts everyone involved. You can care for more than one person at a time and even love them both, but in the end what matters is that you do what is right for you.

I have seen this happen in real life where people hang on to relationships because they don't want to hurt the person they are with, but not because they really love them. You only live once so allow yourself to love the person that makes your heart throb, not the one that makes you feel more safe than loved. That's what I got our of the story, anyway.

Truly, Madly, Famously was published by Poppy books and released in October 2015.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My review of Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

About the book:

"A must-read for anyone curious about life and love behind the scenes."--Bella Thorne, actor and author of Autumn Falls

When Paige Townsen gets plucked from high school obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling film set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie's famous love triangle, Paige's crazy new life begins to resemble her character's.

In this exciting tale of romance and drama, both on-and off screen, Paige must adjust to a crazy new life without the daily support of her friends and family, while figuring out who she is--and who she wants--as the whole world watches.
My review:

I enjoyed this book. I only knew about it because I discovered the television show first. While the story is well told and fairly captivating, it doesn't match the show in several pretty significant ways.  I will leave that to the reader to discover should they choose to contrast and compare. Overall, I found myself pretty enthralled. The main character drew me in. I enjoyed experiencing newfound fame along with Paige.

At first I didn't know whether I would stick with the story since I discovered that the setting and other key points didn't match the show, but I hung in there. I am glad I did. Underlying the obvious love triangle is an element of human compassion that you feel as the story develops. I liked that there was something in this book that I could think about and ponder a bit. While entertaining, it also made me consider things in my life that I hadn't wanted to mull over. I can't wait to find out how this all ends.

Famous in Love was published by Poppy and release in March 2017. To get your own copy just click on the title and it will take you to Amazon. Enjoy!

Monday, May 29, 2017

My review of Deposed by David Barbaree

About the book:

More gripping than Game of Thrones and more ruthless than House of Cards - this a stunning new thriller of power, treachery and revenge

In a darkened cell, a brutally deposed dictator lies crippled - deprived of his power, his freedom - and his eyes.

On the edge of utter despair, his only companion is the young boy who brings him his meagre rations, a mere child who fears his own shadow. But to one who has held and lost the highest power, one thing alone is crystal clear: even emperors were mere children once.

Ten years later, the new ruler's son watches uneasily over his father's empire. Wherever he looks rebellion is festering, and those closest to him have turned traitor once before.

To this city in crisis comes a hugely wealthy senator from the very edge of the empire, a young and angry ward at his heels. He is witty but inscrutable, generous with his time and money to a leader in desperate need of a friend - and he wears a bandage over his blinded eyes.

The fallen emperor's name is Nero.

But this isn't his story.

My review:

I really enjoyed this book. I found the wit and innuendos used by the author added another layer of depth to the characterization of Nero and the story overall. It contained a lot of intrigue as well as historical facts. The time period skipped around so on occasion I had to flip back and check which decade I was reading about. But that didn't take away from the story. It also alternated points of view depending on which character's perspective you were in at the time. I appreciated the author making that clear at the beginning of each segment.

The style of writing was very readable, but not overly simple. The author has a way with words and with dialog that makes you forget - at times - that you are reading. I ended up kind of liking Nero's character by the story's end. That was not something I expected to happen. Nero changed a lot because of his humble circumstances and figured out that what is most important in life is the people you care about and the legacy you leave behind. His relationship with Marcus changed him into a softer-hearted man because over time he became a father figure to Marcus.

I liked how the characters were the same historical characters as in several other books I've read about ancient Rome (by Kate Quinn.) The details came back to me as I read and it felt like I was spending time with old friends. The cultish part of the story (regarding the "dark arts" practiced by the Germanic people) was sick, yet fascinating. I have read about some of these barbaric practices in other books so I know the cult did exist. I can't begin to imagine the horror of watching human sacrifices to the pagan god.

I read this book pretty quickly. Normally I don't plow through a story like I did with this one, but I kept finding myself wanting to pick it up and find out what happens next. Deposed contained intrigue and brutality that were coupled with the politics of the time period. I loved how Nero managed to work his way back into the lives of some of the very people that sought to depose/kill him in the first place. The fact that he was a cripple due to blindness made him virtually unrecognizable to many.

For lovers of ancient Roman history, this book is for you. I just ignored some of the words that didn't fit the time period (like some f-bombs) as they managed to pull me out of the setting. Other than that small criticism, this book exceeded my expectations. It doesn't read like a debut novel. I would read another book by this author.

Deposed was published by Zaffre Publishing and released May 4, 2017.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My review of Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson

About the book:

What happened to Brigitte Berthold?
That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and eleven-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.
Now a wealthy old man, Daniel's final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby's tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons--and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel's lawyer, Lucas Hough--the lure of Brigitte's story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.
My review:

Lately it seems I rarely finish a book because I tend to get bored with the story. I finished this one, so that tells me something. I wasn't bored. Nor was I on the edge of my seat. The author wasn't trying to create anxiety, but it was more like a tender longing and a deep need to understand the past and find healing in it. She did a great job showing the fear of abandonment and the wariness when it came to trusting anyone. I was intrigued with the story. It gave me a warm feeling in my heart rather than an anxious one. While nothing scary happened, it captured my heart anyway.
There is just something about Melanie's writing and characters that pulls me in. I have yet to come across a pathetic or annoying character in any of her books, and I have read plenty of them. Eleven so far (to be exact) and I have enjoyed them all. They are often quite different. It's not so much the subject matter that captures me (though I love WWII era fiction) but the author's voice that compels me to keep reading.  The first book I have ever read by Melanie was "Together for Good" and from that point forward I have been hooked. She never has tension in a story or a plot that feels contrived. Regardless of how far from my own experience the characters' experience tends to be, they always manage to speak to me and make me think about my life and my decisions. And like the author, her books have a sweet and calming tone to them despite how deep the story goes. None of her novels are fluffy and fake. All of them will pull you in. At least for me, that's how it is.
This book slips between the past and the present day. Both eras intrigued me and while a bit more was in the present day, at least a third of the book contained historical chapters. I tend to prefer the historical chapters but in this book I liked them the same. I felt some of the angst and fear that Brigitte had when she couldn't find her friend and was taken in by a man and woman who didn't like her and only used her for her knowledge of the German language. It was interesting how the twists and turns through her life caused her to develop a strong desire to help abandoned children feel loved. I also loved how the main character resisted feeling anything for the man in the story because she didn't want to get close to anyone lest they hurt her again. Well done!
I give this story five stars because of it's pull on me and my desire to finish it. I don't want to give any spoilers, which is why some of this review is a bit vague. Discovering things is half the fun of reading a good book so it ruins it for me if someone tells me the plot in the review.
Catching the Wind was published by Tyndale and released in May 9, 2017.

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