May 24, 2015

A Worthy Pursuit

A Worthy Pursuit
by Karen Witemeyer

Karen is among my favorite Christian authors and I was so excited to get the opportunity to review her ebook! A Worthy Pursuit is every bit as good as all of her other books - but perhaps even better!

I really enjoyed the characters in this one. A teacher/musician and a bounty hunter? I have no idea where she comes up with the ideas but she always has interesting characters! I really enjoyed getting to know Lottie and Stone in this book. The children in the story were also quite remarkable. They all have talents that were fun to read about. I especially loved how Karen used music as a theme for much of the book and talked about how different songs played by different people can evoke different reactions.

I'm not sure if I enjoyed the adventure or the love better in this book. It was full of action but it was also full of wonderful swoon worthy romantic scenes. I really loved watching the love story unfold in this one! The kisses exchanged in this book truly wanted to make me melt!

Typical for Karen's books this one moved fairly quickly but not in a rushed sort of way. I couldn't stop turning the pages and didn't want it to end. I lost sleep reading this. I just didn't want to stop reading! Karen is superb at making the setting, people, and action come to life in a way that no one else can.

This story is wrought with more tension than some of her books since children's lives are on the line. I found myself nervous at more than one point in the story because i was so worried about the kids. And true to form there was also tons of romantic tension. I loved how at first Lottie tried to avoid looking at Stone and how he was constantly having to re-focus his thoughts on something other than her!

If you are looking for a great love story with some action thrown in this is the book for you. And if in addition to that you want something that hasn't been done before then I especially suggest Karen Witemeyer's books. She comes up with excellent, unique characters with interesting professions.

Now I just have to wait for her to come up with another great idea and get it published!!!

Thanks to Bethany House for the copy of the book in exchange for my honest review!

May 22, 2015

In Firefly Valley

I first discovered Amanda Cabot’s writing with the first book in this series, At Bluebonnet Lake, which I found to be a light read with sweet characters and a charming setting. In Firefly Valley is no exception and was a delightful, fast read.

An edited version of this review was featured on The Christian Manifesto:

Cabot describes her scenery in a way that makes you feel like you are at Rainbow’s End, the resort where most of the story takes place. She also writes with a good balance of prose and dialogue but at times it was hard to keep track of all the secondary characters in the story. I loved the multiple love stories but I almost felt like there was enough in this book to have made it two books instead of one. I think Blake and Marisa’s story would have been stronger if Lauren and Drew’s had been told in a separate book. It is a relatively fast read as you get sucked into finding out more about the love lives of Marisa and Lauren. I really enjoyed the pace of this book.

Conservative readers might be alarmed by the mention of alcohol, smoking, and deceit and also the abandonment of family but in the end all of these vices are brought full circle by learning about forgiveness and second chances and will make for great discussion in a book club or parent/child relationship. I love when an author takes difficult concepts and turns them into ways for people to learn about the grace God provides.

Conflict abounds in In Firefly Valley. Marisa deals with a great amount of internal conflict resulting from abandonment, Blake has internal conflict from the way he grew up, and multiple characters have conflict with each other as they work through their internal conflicts. Cabot doesn’t sugar coat hard topics but instead uses them to allow for deeper levels of connection with characters. And even though this isn’t written in the romantic fiction genre she includes just the perfect amount of romantic tension as characters learn how to love each other. She also writes some pretty great romantic scenes where you think you won’t survive if you swoon any more.

I really appreciate Cabot’s attention to her character’s spiritual lives. I love reading books where the characters experience real life difficulties and still keep going back to God to be their rock in hard times. But I also appreciate that reading her book doesn’t feel like you are reading a sermon.

This book is quite predictable but I think that is what makes it such a sweet story. You can get lost in the book for a few hours and simply enjoy reading a typical contemporary Christian fiction book.  This book is perfect to take to the beach or read in a hammock. I think it is a great find for young women and even teenagers.

This isn’t a book that I will read over and over again but it was a lovely story with strong themes of friendship, community, forgiveness and love. 

Revell provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

May 21, 2015

As Love Blooms

As Love Blooms
Lorna Seilstad

I have read quite a few of Seilstad's books and do enjoy her ability to weave unique stories into historical settings. I also love the degree to which she researches her settings for her stories. The amount of time she spent researching gardening was evident and appreciated.

But this wasn't my favorite book by Seilstad. I found myself easily distracted as I was reading this book and had trouble getting to the end. I liked Tessa and Reese but I just didn't get emotionally connected with them.

I also found that I've grown bored with the theme of women's suffrage in her books. While I am interested in history and find the women's suffrage movement fascinating I've just read about it too much in her books. I'm ready for a new theme.

Another part of this book that was unsettling for me was all of the secrecy. It came at me from almost every angle and was overwhelming. I felt like every single character had a secret and most of the secrets were among family and shouldn't have ever been secrets.

I received a complementary ebook from Revell in exchange for my honest review

Now and Forever

Now and Forever
by Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy is one of my favorite Christian Fiction authors because she delivers everything I love about reading. Her books are full of adventure, comedy, and romance packaged together with delightful characters. Ever since I read my first book by her I’ve been coming back for more! Now and Forever was absolutely no exception.

Now and Forever is full of action from the very first chapter and the back and forth of Shannon and Tucker’s points of view make the action choppy which is fitting since they are careening down a river rapid! I love how they each are so stubborn and opinionated and I wouldn’t have truly come to appreciate their personalities if Connealy hadn’t given each character ample time to share their voice. Getting to know them individually was almost as much fun as getting to know them as a couple. 

One of my favorite parts of this book was the dialogue between the characters because often it is laugh out loud hilarious. I love how all of the characters interact and I really begin to connect with them. But as much as I love her passages of dialogue I love her prose too. She has a gift for keeping a story moving even when the characters aren’t talking. Now and Forever moved fast for me because I loved the characters and story line so much. I loved how fast paced the book started and how she barely slowed down as the book moved on. I read the entire book in one sitting and loved the progression of love.

I don’t often read books with very much external conflict, but this book was full of conflict of the wildlife and nature sort. Throughout the book I found myself wondering if they were going to survive raging rivers, caves, bears, and wolves! But I also found myself wondering if they would survive the person attacking homesteads. Between the two elements I was kept on the edge of my seat. Connealy excels at using real life dilemmas to keep her characters on her toes and it is obvious that she has researched how humans and animals interact along with how the terrain is in the area of the Dakotas.

I’m not sure if I love the comedy or the romance in Now and Forever  better. But I do know that I loved the romance. I did think the first kiss came on pretty fast but that didn’t stop me from cheering them on! I loved watching the relationship evolve and especially loved the banter surrounding the romantic side of things. There were definitely many swoon-worthy moments.

The spiritual aspects of the story were fairly subdued. It was evident that many of the characters were believers but spirituality wasn’t overly mentioned. Shannon does at one point specifically mention that Tucker is more religious than her but the story doesn’t dwell on that side of things. I believe a non-believer wouldn’t have a problem reading this book.

Once again Connealy came up with a book idea that hasn’t been done before. I love her unique situations she puts her characters in and reading about how she gets them out! I think anyone would appreciate reading these books. They have enough action and humor to please male readers and are clean so you know you can let a young adult read them.  If you love romance and comedy set in a historic time period you’ll love her books. I’d especially recommend them to readers who love Karen Witemeyer. 

This book was impossible to put down. I couldn’t wait to see how she ended it and now I cannot wait to read book three! I love stories that keep my attention from the first page all the way to the last without ever making me feel bored!

I received an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.