Thursday, April 30, 2015

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

From the publisher:
A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.
An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He's come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he'd wagered, especially when Maggie Linden's father makes him an offer he shouldn't accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance--and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder--Maggie's father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail--Maggie must marry a man she's never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Tamera Alexander is one of my favorite authors.  This is the second in the Belle Meade Plantation novels but you don't have to read the other book to enjoy this one.  There are slightly character references to her other books (which I loved) but don't detract from the story at all or leave you with questions.  

This book was deep with tension and conflict.  The time period that Tamera places her characters in is a rough and cruel one.  She does not shy away from the ugliness of the time but instead embraces it head on so that the readers can really understand and feel what it was like.  I knew about the hatred toward former slaves but had no idea that the Irish were also hated.  A fascinating time period to read and understand.  

. Maggie was as fascinating character to read, she was prejudice in many ways from the way she was raised and her thinking was very normal to what a lady at that time would have been thinking.  I liked that she wasn't "modern" in her thoughts and had to be challenged to grow.  That seemed very realistic and appropriate.  Cullen was the strong character in the book, yes he had a temper, but he was the one would was kind and capable and didn't label things as others in the town did--and that seemed real as well, considering he was looked down on.  Tamera Alexander teaches so much in her novels that you have learned history without even realizing it.  I love her mixture of history and romance.

 I love "arranged" marriages, it allows romantic tension and friendship to build all the while they live together.  I really appreciated the familial and friendship loves that were in this book as well.  Maggie's father is a man who has love and trust in God that he passes on to others.  Maggie's friendships enhance the story and you will find yourself wanting to know more about Savannah.  (Good thing Tamera is writing a novella for her!)

I enjoyed this book and recommend reading not only this one, but all her books.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason

From the publisher:
It's not every day you see your childhood friend and one-time crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. But she's not the only one looking. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to save thousands of innocent lives.

This book is definitely a suspense book. You will find yourself turning the pages to figure out the end.  This is the third book in the Hidden Identity series.  I have never read anything by Lynette Eason before and have not read any of the other series.  However, the characters seem to stand alone.

I was disappointed in the level of Christianity in this Christian romance suspense novel.  I wanted the characters discussions to go deeper than they were.  Jackie had real pain and trouble and Ian's answers (or anyone else for that matter) left you wanting.  What I like about reading Christian fiction is that the characters have problems but then there are others who help them think through the problems and I felt that this was lacking in this novel.

Also, there was a lot of killing in this book.  While it was not graphic, and I appreciated that, the continual killings were not what I wanted to read.  

I received this book free from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Stranger's Secret by Laurie Alice Eakes

From the publisher:
As a grieving widow, Morwenna only wants to make a life for herself and her young son at her murdered husband’s estate. Until an unconscious man washes up on her shore, entangling her in a web of mysteries that threatens everything she holds dear.
Still grieving the loss of her husband, Morwenna Penvenan fills her days preserving her son’s heritage: the dilapidated estate his father left them. But all attempts at restoration are thwarted when she is accused of deliberately causing ships to crash on her shore in order to steal their cargo. While seeking clues to the true culprits, she finds an unconscious man wearing a medallion with the Penvenan crest enameled upon it.
Upon learning of his father’s death, David pursues answers to the many questions left in his father’s wake: Why was his father in Cornwall when he said he would be in Scotland? Why did he die in possession of a medallion belonging to a prominent Cornwall family? Why did his father take money from the family’s ship-building business? And why did someone kill him? Only after waking up at the Penvenan estate under Morwenna’s care do the pieces start falling together.
As David recovers in Morwenna’s house, they grow to care about one another, while knowing each have reasons to distrust the other. The closer they work together, the more they learn how their lives—and mysteries—are entwined. As the past continues to intrude on their lives, they must learn to ask the Lord and others for help or risk losing each other and maybe even losing their lives.
This is the second book in the Cliffs of Cornwall series.  I highly recommend reading the first book before this one.  While you can read this one alone, there will be certain characters and references that will be confusing if you have not read the previous book.
Laurie Alice Eakes creates a mystery romance.  There are strange things happening and the reader will be eager to know what is going to happen in the end.  The mystery is for both David and Morweena--and their lives are intertwined.  There is tension between David and Morweena, distrust and yet attraction.  I felt that this went back and forth too long in the book and it just seemed to tie up neatly at the end.  I felt it was drawn out.
In the first book and second of this series the grandparents are difficult characters.  On one hand you respect and admire them, but on the other hand they seem to have learned nothing from the first book and are still trying to force other people to do things their ways.  
The mystery and suspense will engage some readers and the romance others.  
I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Set-apart Woman: God's Invitation to Sacred Living by Leslie Ludy

From the publisher:
In The Set-Apart Woman, women of all ages will be encouraged to stay grounded in Jesus amid the many distractions and temptations of their daily lives. Biblical truths will help readers understand what it means to live the consecrated life, set apart for God’s purposes. Readers will apply these truths to practical areas of struggle that women face on a daily basis, such as sinful attitudes and patterns and other hindrances to our souls.

Leslie Ludy tells you, right away, in the introduction that she is not going to write a fluffy-feel-good book.  She is there to challenge and inspire you to sacred living of a set-apart life for Jesus.  

There is something truly incredible and unique about Leslie Ludy and her writing.  She is one of the few authors that I feel truly challenges the Christian norm.  She does not just allow you to be mediocre in your Christianity but shows you what the scriptures are calling you to and inspires you by sharing the lives of other woman who have lived the set-apart life.  She is honest and candid in her own struggles and failures, but always share how God has helped her to overcome.  She does not want us to settle for the way things are, but to move beyond them.  However, she is a grace oriented writer and believer not a works-oriented one.  This is huge to me because often when a writer tells us to live differently they make it all about a list of things.  Leslie continually points you back to God who gives you the strength, grace, and love to do His will.  

Each chapter is a specific challenge toward sacred living.  She gives practical and spiritual steps for a person to take.  We need theory but also practical ideas and Leslie gives both.  At the end of each chapter there are Bible verses and questions to use personally or as a group to dig deeper and really make changes in your life.

Leslie Ludy is an inspiration to me and I was so blessed to read this book.

I highly recommend this and all her other books (as well as her husband, Eric Ludy's books) to everyone.  They are a much needed set of Christian leaders today.  

I received this book free from the Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson

From the publisher: Small-town girl Katie Fisher is planning her wedding. Sure, her boyfriend hasn't managed to pop the question just yet, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't enter a contest in Texas Bride magazine to win the dress of her dreams, right? But when her boyfriend breaks up with her and takes a job in another town--the very same day Katie wins her dream dress--her world is turned upside down. Should she claim her prize? And will the hunky former pro-basketball player who runs the swanky Dallas bridal shop--yeah, you read that right--catch on to her humiliation if she does? 


This book is a light read with lots of characters for the reader to enjoy. Through out the book there are many references to God and their relationship to God. 

The book is told in first person from Katie's perspective. I had a hard time getting into the book. I felt distracted by all the other characters and subplots going on. It felt slow and like lots of things were happening without much progress.

This book is for someone who wants to take their time and let the it slowly idols with romance and friends and family all intermingled. 

This is only the first book in the series and Katie, Brady, and Casey will be back in a second book. So the story isn't over yet. 

I received this book free from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Seven Men by Eric Metaxas

This book is filled with seven short biographies of seven men who show what greatness really means.  In these biographies Eric Metaxas showcases how giving up something is what it means to be great.  Each story is a different type of sacrifice, but each person had to give up something and in doing so showed themselves to be great men.

These are small biographies, not meant to tell the whole story but instead to give you a taste of their lives and focus on one aspect.  When reading a biography you might want to known more and then you can go read a full length biography about that person.

Eric Metaxas is a fantastic author.  He writes smoothly and draws you into the lives of these men as if he was walking beside you and telling you these exploits and adventures of these great men and their sacrifices.

I recommend this book.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Legacy by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley

From the publisher:
Doug Anderson has been drifting slowly but steadily away from both his family and his faith. His parents, along with Christina, a young woman taken into the family during a crisis pregnancy, have been trying to reach him before he falls too far. But sometimes you have to hit bottom before you're ready to grow up and give your life over to God. Christina's feelings for Doug have been growing, even though he writes her off as not worth his time. Will Doug's own crisis finally clear his vision and help him focus on what he has right in front of him?


This is the first book I've read in the series and I was able to enjoy it and not need to read the rest of the series--however there are references and characters from the previous books so it would be best if the reader read these first.

Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley do an amazing job of talking about something that a lot of Christian fiction books don't cover.  Estranged children from loving Christian parents.  Sure Jim and Michele Anderson have made mistakes, but they are loving and good parents.  But each child has to make their own decisions.  Doug's decisions hurt the family, not just his parents.  In the book there is an Uncle that the father talks to and gets good advice from.  These sections alone would be worth reading the book for parents going through similar situations.

I thought the book was pretty well done but I felt that Doug's change of heart was a little surprising.  Not completely because I felt the authors showed how he wasn't really certain of his other lifestyle, however his emotional feelings were a surprise because that didn't seem very well developed in the story.

Overall it was a good read and I think the series is probably very good for various reasons.

I received this book free from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Creole Princess

From the publisher:
All along the eastern seaboard, the American struggle for independence rages. In the British-held southern port of Mobile, Alabama, the conflict brewing is quieter--though no less deadly. The lovely Frenchwoman Lyse Lanier is best friends with the daughter of the British commander. Rafael Gonzalez is a charming young Spanish merchant with a secret mission and a shipment of gold to support General Washington. As their paths cross and their destinies become increasingly tangled, Lyse and Rafael must decide where their true loyalties lie--and somehow keep Lyse's family from being executed as traitors to the British Crown.


This book is the second of Beth White's Gulf Coast Chronicle books.  I have not read the first one but you do not need to read it to be able to enjoy this book.  However, there are quite a few characters in this book so it might make it slightly easier to read the other book first.

The story is told mostly from Lyse and Rafael's view points, but it is also told from multiple other's as well.  This adds some dimension to the book, but I felt that there were too many "pots in the fire." Because there were so many stories going on, I felt that I never was able to really invest in any of the particular story lines.  The writer would give a lot of detail and build up one story and then suddenly drop it off and pick up with someone else's story.  In doing this I felt there were also a lot of loose ends.  The story concluded with Rafael and Lyse's story, but left the other stories unresolved.  The reader could summarize what would happen but it felt incomplete.

It is not a bad book, I just felt that it wasn't able to focus on one or even two stories and really invest in those.

I did learn more about the history of that time, but even that was scattered and told over a many different jumps in time so that too felt like I didn't really care about what was happening because it felt disjointed.

I received this book free from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.