Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Home in Drayton Valley - A Book Review

From the Back: Hoping to escape the poor conditions of 1880 New York, Tarsie Raines and her friends Joss and Mary Brubacher and their two children set off for Kansas aboard an unusual wagon train.  But when tragedy strikes on the trip across the prairie, Tarsie is thrown into a partnership with Joss that leaves them both questioning God and their plans for the future.  As their funds dwindle and nothing goes as planned, will they give up and go their separate ways? Or will God use their time in Drayton Valley in a way they never expected?

Synopsis:  Tarsie Raines boards a wagon train with her friends Joss and Mary Brubacher and their two children.  The train is heading west towards Kansas with the hope of a healthier life for Mary.  Unfortunately, tragedy strikes during the journey leaving Joss and Tarsie responsible for the children once they arrive in Kansas.  Joss isn't sure what he wants and Tarsie is forced to take care of the children while dealing with Joss's varying moods.  Over time they settle into a fragile routine until theft and misunderstandings force their next moves.

My Review: This is another sweet historical romance.  I love the historical novels Kim Vogel Sawyer writes.  Each book I've read has multiple layers and this one is no different. This novel chronicles a move into a new area, race relations, and the desperation that drives us toward God.  The characters are easy to relate to and I found myself wishing Joss and Tarsie would put their grievances and hurts aside and realize they are in love.  The book had enough intrigue to keep me interested and a storyline that tugged at my heartstrings.  This is also a quick read - perfect for a day by the pool.

Score:  4 bookmarks out of 5.

Note:  Bethany House Publishers gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Be Still My Soul - A Book Review

From the Back: Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills.  Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith.  But when handsome ladies' man and bluegrass musician Gideon O'Riley steals and kiss, that one action seals her fate.  Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon - a man she barely knows and does not love.  Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon years for a fresh start, forcing Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.  Her distant groom can't seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life.  What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie's God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?  Gideon only ever cared about himself.  Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?

Synopsis:  Lonnie Sawyer is a 17 year-old girl in Appalachia who is growing up in a home with an abusive father.  Her only solace is her Aunt Sarah's house where she plans to move when she turns 18.  Gideon O'Riley is a young musician who steals a kiss from Lonnie on a walk home one night.  Lonnie's father sees and misconstrues the event.  He forces Lonnie and Gideon into a marriage neither of them want.  Leaving town to start a new life, Gideon and Lonnie set out on foot hoping to reach a town with job opportunities.  The journey proves difficult at best and at their weakest point, God steps in and provides a way out in Jebediah Bennett.  Jebediah stops Gideon before he can do something he'll regret.  Jebediah invites Gideon and Lonnie back to his home and invites them to stay a while.  They agree and settle into a tenuous relationship and routine.

My Review:  It took a little bit of time to get into this book but I'm so glad I did.  It's a sweet tale of grace and redemption.  I took an intense dislike to Gideon - he's an immature, insensitive clod who doesn't deserve someone as sweet as Lonnie.  That dislike lasted most of the book and in my opinion, that's the mark of a good author with good character development!  The Bennetts are a nice addition to the book, providing parental guidance to both Lonnie and Gideon.  The dialogue between characters seems more three-dimensional than most books - almost like watching a movie instead of reading a book.  The storyline moves along quite nicely with a healthy mix of drama and tragedy.  Bischof wraps the story nicely at the end.  This is a perfect book to lose yourself in on a rainy afternoon.

Score:  4.0 bookmarks out of 5.

Note 1:  Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review. 

Note 2:  I finished this book a couple months back but inadvertently neglected to post my review in a timely manner.

To Love and Cherish - A Book Review

From the Back: Melinda Colson has been waiting months for Evan, the assistant gamekeeper at the Bridal Veil Island resort, to propose.  Without an offer of marriage, she must return to Cleveland with the family she works for as a lady's maid.  Evan isn't afraid of hard work, and he hopes to be promoted soon.  He wants to marry Melinda - but not until he's sure he can support her and a family.  Letters strengthen their romance until a devastating storm strikes the island.  With no word from Evan, Melinda knows she must journey back to Bridal Veil in search of her beloved.  But the hurricane isn't the last calamity to shake up Bridal Veil.  Melinda finds a new job on the island, but still no offer of marriage comes her way.  has she given he heart to the wrong person?  Will she ever find a man to love and cherish?

Synopsis:  Melinda Colson is a lady's maid for a wealthy woman who winters on Bridal Veil Island.  Over time she has fallen in love with Evan, one of the gamekeepers on the island.  Disappointed with the lack of a marriage proposal, Melinda returns to Cleveland with the family.  A long-distance romance grows until a hurricane ravages the island.  After being lied to by her employers, Melinda quits her position and convinces her brother to with her back to Bridal Veil.  When they arrive, they find the island devastated but Evan and Melinda's other friends have survived.  Melinda decides to take a job with the resort to wait until Evan is ready to propose.  She proves to be good at her job and is soon promoted to a new position creating activities for the guests.  New characters come on the scene and complicate life for both Melinda and Evan.  An assassination attempt leads to the climactic ending of the book.

My Review:  This is a very sweet historical romance.  I was intrigued when I discovered it was set off the coast of Georgia.  Even though the island is fictional, the storyline could easily have taken place on one of GA's barrier islands.  I do have to admit there were a couple of times I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and shake Melinda.  She comes across more "whiny" than I like in my characters. :-)  I did enjoy the storyline though and there were enough twists and turns (including an assassination plot of all things) to keep the story moving and keep my attention.  I've read dual-author stories before that seemed disjointed so I was a little concerned picking this one up.  However, my fears were relieved - this is a book that provides no noticeable differences in the writing.  This book is a well-written romance that drew me in quickly.  It was a fun read and I'm looking forward to more stories from Bridal Veil.

Score:  4.0 bookmarks out of 5.

Note 1:  Bethany House Publishers provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Note 2:  I finished this book months ago but inadvertently did not post my review in a timely manner.

Abducted - A Book Review

From the Back:  After solving the mayor's murder and exposing the corruption among the top brass in Las Playas, Carly Edwards is happy to be back on patrol with her partner, Joe, putting bad guys behind bars.  For once, everything in life seems to be going right.  But then everything starts going wrong.  Slow to recover from an injury, her ex-husband, Nick, begins pulling away just as they were starting to get close again.  Meanwhile, when Joe's wife lands in the hospital with a mysterious illness, their baby is kidnapped.  As Carly chases down every lead in a desperate search to find the baby, her newfound faith is pushed to its limits.

Synopsis:  Carly Edwards is a police officer back on the job and enjoying police work.  She enjoys working with her partner Joe and is rebuilding her relationship with her ex-husband Nick.  Without warning, Joe's wife ends up in the hospital critically ill.  While he's occupied worrying about his wife, Joe's baby is kidnapped from the hospital.  Carly manages to convince her supervisors to let her in on the investigation even though she has close ties to the victim.  Twists and turns abound in both the kidnapping investigation and Carly's relationship with Nick.  Can Carly find the baby and the kidnapper before it's too late?

Review:  This is the second book in the Pacific Coast Justice series.  It's helpful to have read the first book, Accused, but it's not critical.  Janice Cantore, the author, is a former cop so there's an element of authenticity to the book.  I like Carly's character; she's a good cop with a heart for people.  Her faith is new and she doesn't always understand how God works.  The book is a little slow in parts but it's fairly simple to plow through those sections.  There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested.  If you like police procedurals mixed with romance, you'll like this book.  I definitely plan on checking out the other books in the series.

My Score:  3.5 bookmarks out of 5.

Note 1:  Tyndale House Publishers gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Note 2:  I actually finished this book months ago.  I somehow neglected to post this review in a timely manner.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Holy Cow It's Been A While

Wow, I had no idea it had been so long since there was any sort of update.  I'm going to TRY and get back to more regular blogging.  Expect a flood of book reviews in the next few days.  I somehow  lost track of the fact I had written some out and I forgot to type them up and hit post.  Oops!  I think I have four that are back-logged and then one that I've just recently finished.

I also hope to have pictures of my still new-to-me place.  I'm planning a do-nothing weekend so hopefully I can sit on my couch and post reviews and my thoughts on life in general.  I've composed a number of posts in my head about recent events but just haven't found the time to post.  More later....