Friday, October 30, 2015

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

From the publisher:
Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.
Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.
The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?
As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?
I was impressed more and more as I read this book. Melanie Dickerson has this gift for taking a fairy tale that we are all familiar with and deepening and broadening.  The spiritual aspects of this book were the best parts to me, the way the characters turn to God and grow in Him through encouragement of others was really uplifting and challenging to read.  
I loved the way Dickerson developed Rapunzel and Gerek.  The things they felt and did were realistic and the author showed this through her writing.  She did not just tell you how they were or felt but really developed them.
I read this book in one day because I couldn't put it down.  I wanted to read more and more and see how things turned out.  Even though the fairy tale is familiar there were twists and turns and surprises along the way that kept you wanting to read.  
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Love In the Details by Becky Wade

From the publisher:
When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over.

Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she can’t help but feel horrible for the pain she caused him. And even though she longs to be with Josh, she doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn

As soon as I read the first pages, I felt myself sinking into this novella.  Josh and Holly's high school love that ended too soon made my heart ache.  Yet, it shows how sometimes things that happen, that we won't enjoy--can still benefit us in the end.  Holly and Josh have grown since they have been apart and also grow with their interaction to each other. I love how Becky Wade's book can make you swoon and feel all romantic, and yet she tucks in truths that are solid and deep.

Becky Wade's writing is wonderful.  Even in this novella you could tell that she was the type of writing to draw you in and keep you.  I wanted to read more about Josh and Holly, but the novella was perfect in its novella form. 

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Amish Christmas at North Star by Cindy Woodsmall, Mindy Starns Clark & Emily Clark, Amanda Flower, and Katie Ganshert

From the publisher:
One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife, just outside North Star, Pennsylvania. 
Rebekah’s babies, as they are called, are now grown adults and in four heartwarming novellas each young person experiences a journey of discovery, love, and the wonder of Christmas.

Guiding Star
 by Katie Ganshert

Curiosity gets the best of Englisher Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby. When he finds adventurous Elle McAllister in Iowa will his discoveries upend her world? 

Mourning Star
 by Amanda Flower

Eden Hochstetler slips from her parents’ fudge shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac Yoder.  Who is guilty? Isaac’s handsome great nephew Jacob, an angry Englisher, or someone else?

In the Stars
 by Cindy Woodsmall

Kore Detweiler has nursed his broken heart, avoiding North Star after Savilla Beiler suddenly rejected his love.  But when he is called to return home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.

Star of Grace
 by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark

Andy Danner left North Star to work in construction in a new Amish settlement in Louisiana. His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas, and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in an old widower’s life.

This was an interesting concept for a book. To have four novellas that all worked together.  I liked the idea of it, but I felt that one of the stories didn't really match the others.  It is not that Eden's story was not well written, rather, it did not flow with the basic ideas of the other ones. 

Overall each story was engaging and I kept wanting to read so that I could find out what happened next and how the stories tied in together.  I was pleased to read the epilogue and have a "wrap-up" for all the stories.

I also really enjoyed that Katie Ganshert and Cindy Woodsmall had characters from previous books mentioned.  I always think that is fun!

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On This Foundation by Lynn Austin

From the publisher:
When news that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire, Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, seeks God's guidance. After fasting and prayer, he's given leave to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall, not anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.

The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and halt the work. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving. 

Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is a powerful exploration of faith in the midst of oppression, and hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

This is the third and final book in the Restoration Chronicoles which document the minor prophets of Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah.  

I thought it was very interesting the prologue to this book and how Lynn Austin created an additional drive for Nehemiah to be protective and makes sure others are protected.

There are three main characters in this book and their stories work together to portray all different aspects of what was going on during that time.  It was heart breaking to read about families selling children to be bond servants.  But it also opened your eyes to different view points of those at that time. 

Lynn Austin does amazing research into the time and people.  Readers of Biblical historical fiction will want to read this and really take themselves into the world of Nehemiah and the Jews during this time period.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Owls: Our Most Charming Bird by Matt Sewell

From the publisher:
The owl is one of nature’s most captivating creatures. In this enchanting guide, artist Matt Sewell brings to life fifty species from around the world. From the adorable Eurasian Pygmy Owl, small enough to fit in your pocket, to the Great Gray Owl, celebrated for its size and elegance—these charming illustrations are sure to delight anyone intrigued by these wise and wonderful animals.

This little book is the cutest book I have ever seen on owls.  I loved each section and picture.  The descriptions were not bland at all.  Instead they brought new life to the owls, even if you are familiar with them.

The end of the book was a checklist where you could mark off the owls you had seen. This makes the book even better because it makes readers want to go and see the owls and learn more about them.

This book could easily be for a child or adult.  It makes the reader believe that owls really are our "most charming bird."

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