Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Whitson-KINDLE

With the promise of land that can be settled, Sixteen women head to Nebraska to start new lives. Once they arrive though they overhear what has really been schemed for them. They have been promised as brides to the men of Cayote. Half of the women decide that they will go no further than Plum Grove.

Five of the women decide to team up and homestead together. They are overwhelmed with the generosity of their neighbors in the community. Each one has a personal reason for starting over. Some with secrets and some with hurts they band together as friends and look for hope in this new venture.

Matthew Ransom lost his wife several years before. His young daughter has been raised by friends. He carries resentment like a burden on his shoulders. He and his cousin Lucas Gray came to Nebraska together. They fell in love with the same woman. Matthews jealousy and Lucas' pride have kept them from forgiving each other. With the arrival of the women it seems it is time to lay aside old resentments. But once again are they going to be fighting over the same woman?

I really did enjoy this story although I had a hard time keeping up with all of the characters. With 5 different backgrounds on the women going on I got a bit confused about who was who. But that is probably because I can't remember my own name half the time! I loved the women's determination to be on their own. To own land themselves. There was humor and some feistiness that was enjoyable in the characters. And a couple of hunky male characters to keep an eye on!

There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Finley is on her way to Ireland as part on an exchange student program. She is following her brother’s footsteps after his death.  Since Will was killed Finley has found herself in a downward spiral. She feels that God is no longer listening to her. Since reading Will’s journal and seeing how much he saw God while in Ireland, Finley believes that if she just follows in his footsteps that maybe God will meet her there also. 

Beckett Rush is a hot young actor heading to his home in Ireland to film his latest vampire movie. When Finley, being bumped up to first class, sits next to him on their trip to Ireland he assumes that she too will be one of the many girls that swoon over him. He is in for a huge surprise. Finley is uninterested in his notoriety. 

Finley’s host family runs a Bed & Breakfast. Finley is less than enthused when she finds that Beckett is staying there for the duration of the filming of his movie. Since Finley is without a car it puts a crimp in her following Will’s journal. Beckett offers to drive her around in return for her being his assistant. She helps him run lines. He finds her honesty refreshing.
One of Finley’s first assignments when she starts school is to adopt a grandmother from the local nursing home. She is assigned Mrs. Sweeney, a cantankerous woman who is dying. Finley tries to get out of the assignment or to get reassigned to someone else, but her teacher is not going for it. What Finley doesn’t count on is learning to love the woman and helping her find forgiveness in her last days.

With the mounting pressure of school, an audition at a conservatory, her mounting feelings for Beckett, and being unable to come up with an ending for her musical piece, Finley starts to spiral downhill. Will she meet God in this place or will she lose Him and herself in the process?

From the moment I picked up the book I had a hard time putting it down. Jenny B. Jones has a way of writing that captures the reader from the very beginning of the book until the last page is turned. I connected with the characters and empathized with both of them. Without being overly preachy Jenny B. Jones was able to show her characters struggle with faith and ultimate victory. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Waterfall Wednesday Week 5

The last day of Waterfall Wednesdays! Hosted by Nic at Irresistible Reads. Head on over to her blog and link up for the discussion.

Discussion Questions:

1.      After Gabi is injured, the doctor gives her a tonic.  Gabi questions the doctor several times what is in it but he refuses to tell.  Would have you taken the tonic in Gabi situation?
I doubt it. I am suspicious by nature so would have gone right for the whole “I’m being poisoned” scenario.

2.      Before the games Gabi asks Lia to let Lord Forabosch win in the archery event as people especially Lord Forabosch are becoming suspicious of them.  But during the games Lord Forabosch upsets Lia trying to throw her off her game. So Lia decides to win.  Do you think she did the right thing by not letting Lord Forabosch bully her or do you think she took an unnecessary risk?
I would have been more determined to out-show him! But with everyone telling Lia to let him win the game she should have listened. In that I think it was an unnecessary risk. It made them more enemies.

3.      When Gabi is dying and she and Lia decide to return to the tombs so they can get the cure at home but they have to tell Marcello the truth.  Even though Marcello thinks that it is madness that they are from the future he believes in Gabi because he loves her.  Do you think this is believable?  What would you have done if you were Marcello?
I would have called in the equivalent of 14th Century shrinks! No way would I have believed her, suspicious by nature (see question 1).

4.      In the end Gabi and Lia return home.  Do you think Gabi will return to Marcello? Would you go back?
I’m a chicken really, unless I am forced into a situation, then I come out fighting. I would not willingly put myself into the situations that she has. So no, I would not go back. I would have been doing everything possible to get back to the 21st Century. AND, since there are 2 other books in the series I think there is a pretty good chance that Gabi goes back *wink wink*

5.  Looking back at Waterfall what was your favourite moment?

Honestly it has been a while since I finished the whole book. I have also read the other 2 that are in the series so far. So I may be getting them intermingled. Let’s just say that my favorite moments are any time Gabi and Marcello are “having a moment” together. Their passion and love for each other makes my heart go pitter-pat!

I have enjoyed participating in Waterfall Wednesdays! I have read all 3 books and am looking forward to Lisa's next book in the River of Time series. Check out my reviews:





Friday, September 23, 2011

Christian Fiction Book Club-The Preacher's Bride

This month's Christian book club is being hosted by Lydia at The Overweight Bookshelf .

My Review:

Set in the 1600’s amidst unrest in both political and religious groups John Costin is a young Puritan tinker/preacher. His wife has just died in childbirth and he is left with 3 other children and the baby that will surely die before too long. Filled with grief and knowing that the newborn baby will not live for long, John rejects the sisters’ offer of getting a housekeeper. What he doesn’t count on is the determination of one young sister to not only save the baby’s life, but to also take care of his other children. 

Elizabeth knows that she is overstepping her place when she intercedes on the baby’s behalf and finds him a wet nurse amongst the poor and rejected. Mrs. Grew, one of the other sister’s, believes that the baby would be better off dead than to nurse from the woman that Elizabeth brought for the baby. Mrs. Grew’s resentment of Elizabeth is seen throughout the story. 

At first John rejects Elizabeth as his housekeeper, but he soon sees what a blessing she is to his children. Since he is gone the majority of each day, he knows that his 8 year old blind daughter Mary would be unable to care for the younger children. He really doesn’t have a choice but to continue to allow Elizabeth to come care for them.  Being an unlicensed preacher of God’s Word John’s ministry soon brings persecution not only to Elizabeth, but also to his family.

When Elizabeth is brutally attacked John realizes that he is close to going to jail. He is willing to make the sacrifice for the cause of Christ. He also realizes that he has come to have feelings for Elizabeth. How far will the Royalists go though to exact their revenge on him and his family?

This is a fictional story on the life of John and Elizabeth Bunyan (John is the author of Pilgrim’s Progress). I didn’t know that until the end of the story in the Author’s notes. I have mixed emotions about this book. The characters have stayed with me since I finished it. But I find that if it wasn’t a book club book I probably would have closed it after the first attack on Elizabeth. I think if I would have read first that it was based on the true life of John Bunyan I might have been able to read it in a different frame of mind. It was hard for me to read about the helplessness of the young girl Elizabeth being attacked. It was also difficult to read about supposedly Christian people treating each other so evilly. I found myself skimming over a lot of the conflict in the book. I know that is what makes a book good for some people, but I just couldn’t take it. 

Discussion Questions: 

2.    Elizabeth believes if she serves the Lord diligently, He will reward her efforts. Often we too think we can earn God's favor by serving him. What’s wrong with this philosophy? Does God's love and blessing really depend on anything we do? Or does he bestow blessings because of his great love and mercy? I have found myself thinking sometimes “if I behave correctly then nothing bad will happen to me.” The problem with this philosophy is that it is “works” based. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. God bestows blessings to us because of His great love and mercy for us. I’ll stop there at the risk of becoming over preachy!
3.    John’s friend Gibbs encourages him to take the "hard path" because it will lead to greater holiness. What hardships have you faced lately? Why is it our natural inclination to take the easy way out of hard situations? How can doing the hard thing lead you to greater holiness? It is through the hard times that we lean more on the Lord, we learn more from Him, and we grow in our relationship with Him. Do I like the hard times? Heck no!! I do everything in my power to escape those hard times. My inclination is to have no bumps in the road. I like a steady path. But then I find myself at risk of becoming lazy in my faith. I become too comfortable and then that leaves no room for growth and maturity. I have to say that lately things have been going rather smoothly. I have heard that a person is either heading into a trial or coming out of a trial in their life. I’m not ready to strap on the seat belt yet for the next trial though!

Now it is your turn! Go to The Overweight Bookshelf and link up for the discussion. See what others are saying. 

Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

Gabi, Lia and their mother return to the time before their father dies in order to save him. They then race back to the 14th century. A year has passed and Fortino is still being held prisoner. Negotiations to gain his release have failed. The only way Firenze will agree to his release is a trade, the She-Wolves of Siena for Fortino.

Once again Gabi finds herself in Lord Greco's care. Only this time she is being forced to marry him in order to gain peace between Siena and Firenze. Will Marcello be able to rescue Gabi once again? What about Gabi's confusing feelings for Greco?

The third installment of the River of Time series is every bit as exciting as the first. When I turned the last page I found myself wanting more! When first Lord Greco was introduced I wasn't sure if I liked him. I couldn't understand what the hype was when I read about everyone swooning over him! But after finishing Torrent I must say I am a HUGE fan! Marcello, Greco and Luca prove to be swoon-worthy, hunky, chivalrous knights and I'm looking forward to reading more about them.   I was just looking at Lisa T. Bergren's website and it looks like there is a 4th book planned. Tentatively called Tributary. Lisa has a chapter posted for us to read. I don't know when it will be released, but I can't wait! Check out Lisa's website here for more books that she has written.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Waterfall Wednesdays-Week #4

Today's Waterfall Wednesday is being hosted by Jenny at Supernatural Snark answer the questions and link up at her blog to see what everyone else is saying about this book!

Discussion Questions:

1.              Gabi and Lia both face several life and death situations in these chapters, having to pick up weapons in defense of those they love and experiencing first hand the brutality of close combat. If you had the choice between picking up a weapon and standing on the front lines or staying behind to tend to the wounded as necessary, which would you choose?

That’s a hard question! I think I would stay behind and tend to the wounded, but then I would be wondering what was going on up at the front and want to get my share of some butt kicking in!

2. Both girls get to wear extraordinary gowns to their victory celebration; what would your dream medieval gown look like?

          I am not a dress up kinda gal. So there is no medieval gown that would tempt me. Plus I think medieval gowns were kind of low cut? And I am not a cleavage exposing kinda gal. So give me a pair of the men’s leggings and tunic and I would be happy! See the handsome knight? Much more comfortable. Although not quite as pretty as a gown. LOL!

3. Gabi has crude stitches put in and must endure both their removal as well as the cauterization of the wound. How is your threshold for pain? Do you think you would have simply gritted your teeth as Gabi does?

       I think I have a fairly high tolerance for pain. I suffer from headaches pretty much on a daily basis. I just deal with it. I don’t take pain pills very well so the couple of times I have needed them I get off of them as quickly as possible. I would have gritted my teeth and said “let er rip!”

4. Marcello wants to properly court Gabi after they express mutual feelings of affection, wanting to speak with her mother about his intentions. What do you think is the most romantic aspect of medieval courtship?

   I think that the fact the courtship involved permission from a parental source was pretty romantic. When the guy respects the girl enough to involve the parents then he is a man worthy to court a woman. My husband had to ask permission from my father to be able to date me. My daughter’s husband had to ask my husband’s permission to court her. They didn’t go out on a date by themselves until they were 18…they married shortly after they turned 18. I think it shows respect to both parties that they want to honor each other and their families.

5. Gabi and Lia find themselves with conflicting desires toward the end with Lia wanting to return home and Gabi hoping to stay. Do you think that Gabi is being unfair to Lia for wanting to stay, or is Lia being unfair to Gabi for demanding they go? A little of both?

I think a little of both. I can see that Gabi thinks she is in love with Marcello and is not wanting to leave him again. But I also see Lia wanting to get the heck out of there to a safer environment with less disease and exposure to warring castles! Personally I don’t know that any amount of hot guys could convince me to stay in a place that had no running water, no flushing toilets, and my life was threatened every time I stepped a toenail outside of my castle!

I am currently reading Torrent, the third book in the series. It keeps me on the edge of my seat!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

The She-Wolves of Siena are back! This time they transport their mother with them. Months have passed since last Gabi and Marcello said good-bye. They find that their love for each other has not dimmed with time. But as always danger lurks around every corner!

Once again Gabi and Lia find themselves exercising the skills that gave them their name "She-Wolves". Separated from Marcello and Luca the girls find themselves being hunted by Lord Greco. He is determined to find them and take them back to Firenze to use as leverage in the coming war.

With daring rescues and fierce battles Cascade does not disappoint as a sequel to Waterfall. And who can pass up finally meeting Lord Greco that everyone has been talking about?

And now...on to Torrent!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waterfall Wednesdays Week 3

Waterfall Wednesday is being hosted by Joy and Serena at Edgy Inspirational Romance this week. To participate answer the questions for chapters 12-17 then link up to their blog to share with everyone else.

Discussion Questions:
1.       In Siena, on her way to the ball at Palazzo Pubblico, Gabi likened her experience to being on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, the goal being "to see and be seen." If you were a peasant, watching from the crowd, what would you be thinking as this procession passed by?
I am not easily starstruck and since I am short I probably wouldn’t be able to see the procession because of all of the tall people in front of me! BUT if I did see the procession I would probably be critiquing what each lady wore(just like on the red carpet) and getting my eyes full of some gorgeous eye-candy men!

2.       Though quite nervous about dancing at the ball, Gabi discovers a strange feeling of connection to the time, the people, and the society through the unified beauty of the dance. Have you ever been in a position where you felt out of your element, but, in one, pinpointed moment, became a part of or connected to something bigger than your fear?
Crowds always always make me feel out of my element. Again, I am going to harp on the me being short thing, but really because I am so short I feel claustrophobic in a crowd. I tend to avoid them whenever possible. One moment I always remember was when I was way younger(teens) and attending a Basic Youths conference. The last day of the conference we sang acapella( so yes, I know I am spelling this wrong because spell checker is telling me so. But you should see what they are suggesting, scapula or canella! And when I spelled it acapello they suggested that I meant Acapulco! Just had to share that!), hearing all of us lifting our voices singing Amazing Grace with no musical accompaniment was so awesome that I had goose pimples all over just being a part of such a massive praise to our Savior!

3.       The kiss. Oh, the kiss. When Marcello finally kisses Gabi, he believes the experience to be proof that they are meant to be together. What did you think about his assumption? Were you surprised at Gabi's reaction to it? Have you ever experienced a kiss that seemed to be prophetic in a similar (or opposite!) way?
Well I certainly hope that the kiss was prophetic and they are meant to be together! But a kiss does not a lifetime make! I have only kissed 2 guys in my entire life. The first was when I was 16 and by the time I broke up with him his kisses no longer made my heart pulse or my knees weak. The next man I kissed was my husband! So I know I am old fashioned, but the man who’s kisses made me weak in the knees when I was 19 still to this day is quite capable of producing the same effect!

4.       Many go through their teen years with a subdued sense of immortality. Do you think Gabi has a sense of this teen feeling? And did you think Gabi's converse observation, "Sometimes death came hunting and there was no way to cut it off at the pass." was informed more by the experience of losing her father, her self-admitted closet hypochondria, or the forced maturation of being transported to a different time? How does this observation show Gabi's growth as a character?
Holy crow Serena! You are killing me here! Taxing my brain! Teens do have a sense of immortality, but I don’t think they hold the market on that thinking. I know a lot of adults that feel the same way. I don’t know that Gabi had that feeling, I just think she didn’t even think about it, she wanted to find her sister and was going to do it no matter what the cost or the danger. As for her observation on death I think it had to do more with losing her father than anything else. But it could also be having to grow up real quick when she found herself in the middle of a bloody battle in the 14th Century! I don’t know, my problem with reading a story is that I take it at face value and don’t look for more deeper meanings, it taxes my poor brain too much!

5. In the span of a few moments, Gabi goes from sword-wielding teen beauty to man-killing warrior. Did you think her realization of the finality of death -- and her justification for its necessity -- was realistic? And, in her slippers, could you have done the same?

I think it seemed very realistic. When faced with protecting someone she loved she had to face the reality of killing or being killed. I know that if I was faced with having to protect my family I would come out fighting and hope that I would be the one left standing after all of the dust settled!

Only 2 weeks left of Waterfall Wednesdays! It's not to late to join in the fun! I've enjoyed hopping around reading everyone's responses to the questions.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Kat has turned over a new leaf. She is no longer stealing for personal gain. She now steals things and returns them to their rightful owners.

When Kat is approached by Constance Miller with the story of how the Cleopatra Emerald had been stolen from her family Kat had no interest in helping her. The Cleopatra Emerald had a history of bringing a curse on anyone that had possession of it. Besides, Uncle Eddie has forbidden anyone in the family from ever going after the Cleopatra. Many a thief has tried and failed because of the curse. Kat believes though that she can do it.

With the help of Hale and a few others in her crew Kat manages to do what was thought to be impossible, steal the Cleopatra. As soon as the job is done though the curse seems to befall Kat and her crew. Kat finds that she was just conned by one of the best cons in the business! Kat, Hale and the rest of the gang must find a way of getting the Cleopatra back before Uncle Eddie ever finds out that Kat stole it and that she messed up so badly. Will Kat be able to out-con one of the best in the business or will she end up disgraced and ostracized by Uncle Eddie?

I really enjoyed this book! There were so many twists and turns though that I got a bit confused. But it still kept me turning the pages with excitement! And, what is up with Kat and Hale? She likes him, yet she's afraid to let him close to her.