Monday, September 17, 2018

Adamant: Finding Truth in a Universe of Opinions- Lisa Bevere

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: By ancient definition, the adamant was known as both a diamond and a mythical stone of indestructible wonder. In more modern terminology, it describes a posture of unshakeable resolve and determination. If there was ever a time for us to be adamant about love and truth it is now. God is Love. God is Truth. Both love and truth are timeless, transcending our current trends and opinions. Sometimes the most loving thing we will ever do is to speak the truth, but speaking truth begins with living it.

Using the mediums of Scripture and story, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Bevere takes readers on a journey into the Mountain of God, to the one place they can learn not only to abide in God's unshakeable truth and love, but become adamant--people who are unmovable, determined, and steadfast. With conviction and passion, Lisa unpacks the concept of the adamant for readers, linking together the grand story of Scripture and God's purpose in their lives. Readers will see that God's plan is revealed as we dwell in him, it is there that we are forged and shaped. As we abide in Christ our Cornerstone we are shaped into the image of the adamant.


My Thoughts: For truth to be real, it has to be true universally, without regard for opinion. In the Christian faith, God is that truth and so this book is about understanding, trusting, and living in the will of God. The author reminds us that God is adamant, unchanging and uncompromising. It is a great reminder for those who think that God makes an exception to his word for them, whether in their favor or against.

I think that everyone can learn something from this book. How much will be new to you will depend on your background, however. Some people already have a firm image of who God is, while others have never experienced that knowledge. For myself, this book served more as a reminder. It was encouraging to read about the author's own experiences with God and how her past has shaped her ministry.

Since this book is more theological, there are very few examples of real life application. This is something I would have liked to have had, particularly in the chapter on hating what God hates. But maybe it would be another book entirely to discuss righteous displays of anger.

Adamant is a great read for both newer and younger Christians, particularly those facing uncertainty in their faith and their future. The world often tells use that truth is changing and that we must change with it. What a relief for us to know that TRUTH isn't changing and that we will find it if we seek it.

I have provided an honest review of this book after having received a copy from the publisher.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Weaver's Daughter- Sarah E. Ladd

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Kate's loyalties bind her to the past. Henry's loyalties compel him to strive for a better future. In a landscape torn between tradition and vision, can two souls find the strength to overcome their preconceptions? Loyalty has been at the heart of the Dearborne family for as long as Kate can remember, but a war is brewing in their small village, one that has the power to rip families asunder --including her own. As misguided actions are brought to light, she learns how deep her father's pride and bitterness run, and she begins to wonder if her loyalty is well-placed.

Henry Stockton, heir to the Stockton fortune, returns home from three years at war hoping to find a refuge from his haunting memories. Determined to bury the past, he embraces his grandfather's goals to modernize his family's wool mill, regardless of the grumblings from the local weavers. When tragedy strikes shortly after his arrival, Henry must sort out the truth from suspicion if he is to protect his family's livelihood and legacy.

Henry has been warned about the Dearborne family. Kate, too, has been advised to stay far away from the Stocktons, but chance meetings continue to bring her to Henry's side, blurring the jagged lines between loyalty, justice, and truth. Kate ultimately finds herself with the powerful decision that will forever affect her village's future. As unlikely adversaries, Henry and Kate must come together to find a way to create peace for their families, and their village, and their souls - even if it means risking their hearts in the process.

My Thoughts: Probably my favorite Ladd novel so far, The Weaver's Daughter is about the conflict between tradition and innovation, preserving old jobs and creating new ones. It feels like a great topic to discuss, considering the same conflicts are working out in modern society as well. Conflict always arises when there is change, especially when there are good and bad points (and people) on both sides. And no matter how many times this happens, the cycle always seems to progress in the same way, with some people embracing it and others fighting back.

Now, the romance of this story is more of a side note, with these "star-crossed" lovers' relationship often sidelined for the overshadowing issue of their families' ideas of what the future should look like. And I honestly preferred that the focus was on that rather than them. It showed that there were more important things in their lives than whether or not the characters would have a chance to flirt.

On the downside, this meant that once the characters did get together, it felt kind of rushed. Overall, I think that the story takes place over about a month and then the epilogue ties everything up in a little too neat of a bow. However, without that epilogue, I really enjoyed this story and the way that it ended because these characters had managed to find happiness despite the messiness of their situations.

Personally, I would recommend reading this without the epilogue. The story is stronger without it.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through the Fiction Guild.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Spice Bringer- H.L. Burke

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: A deadly disease. A vanishing remedy. A breathless journey.

All her life, Niya's known she will die young from the fatal rasp. She survives only with the aid of vitrisar spice and a magical, curmudgeonly fire salamander named Alk. Then an ambitious princess burns down the vitrisar grove in an effort to steal Alk so she can claim her rightful throne. Joined by Jayesh, a disgraced monk, Niya and Alk must flee to the faraway Hidden Temple with the last vitrisar plant, or all who suffer from the rasp will perish.

But even as Niya’s frustration and banter with Jayesh deepen to affection, the rasp is stealing away her breath and life.

For a girl with limited time and a crippling quest, love may be more painful than death.


My Thoughts: Starting out this book, I was not sure that I would enjoy it. The lizard, Alk, has a fairly obnoxious attitude through most of the story and it was the first thing that stood out to me while reading. But I had seen another review that mentioned this, and they had said that it got better, so I gave the story another chance. And the story did get better, though not because of Alk.

Both Niya and Jayesh were strong characters, more than making up for Alk's peevishness. I enjoyed Niya's strength in persevering despite the fact that it would be so much easier for her to just give up. And even though she personally gains from her successes, she is not given a cure-all, easy win the way most protagonists are in fiction these days. Which gave her and Jayesh's relationship all the more depth.

However, there were some other things that, while they didn't make me dislike the story, did hamper my enjoyment of it. The first is that, for a YA, I thought there was too much thought and discussion of sex. In the author's novel, Coiled, I had appreciated the discussion because it came as part of the theme of inward vs outward beauty, but in this it was just something that Niya was upset about the thought of not having done before dying.

The other was my confusion over the religion. There was clearly an Indian polytheistic set up to the world building, however it relied heavily on a Christian point of view. Having only three gods: the Kind god, the Just god, and the All-knowing god, made it seem like the author took the idea of the trinity and transferred it into polytheism. My problem with this wasn't that it was too Christian or else not enough, but that it no longer felt like a true religion to me, as polytheistic pantheons come with a much grayer outlook on life that results in at least one deity ruling over a darker side of human nature.

What made Spice Bringer stand out, however, were the conflicts. Beyond Niya's struggle with the rasp and her quest to protect the vitrisar, was the Princess's goal to protect her sister and the kingdom from a despotic ruler. And though these goals were set up to cause one or the other to fail, neither's motives were wrong. Wanting both to succeed meant that I was more engaged to find out what happened in the end. So, though I did not love this read, I did enjoy it.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ecopy of the book from the publisher.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Patriot Bride- Blog Blitz


Welcome to THE PATRIOT BRIDE Blitz with JustRead Publicity Tours.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Patriot Bride
Collection: Daughters of the Mayflower, Book 4
Author: Kimberley Woodhouse
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance

Faith Jackson and Matthew Weber are both working covertly to aid the Patriot cause. But will they be willing to sacrifice all for their fledgling country?

A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Spies Work Together for the Patriot Cause

Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict. When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith have to sacrifice for the sake of their fledgling country?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse.

TO PURCHASE A COPY*



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Kimberley Woodhouse is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifteen fiction and nonfiction books. A popular speaker and teacher, she’s shared her theme of “Joy Through Trials” with more than half a million people across the country at more than 2,000 events. Kim and her incredible husband of twenty-five-plus years have two adult children. She’s passionate about music and Bible study and loves the gift of story.

CONNECT WITH KIM: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


TOUR GIVEAWAY


Kimberley have graciously offered (1) Winner a wonderful gift basket filled with goodies from Mount Vernon, a gift card and many more! Of course, it also includes a copy of the book!

Giveaway will begin at midnight August 27, 2018 and last through 11:59 PM EST on September 3, 2018. Winner will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize.  Open to US mailing addresses only.  For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.

Be sure to stop at a stop each day for extra entries!


TOUR SCHEDULE

For the full tour schedule, click on either of the launch pages below.
(All stops expected to post by 12:00 NOON EST)



*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Defense of Honor- A Defense of Honor

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: When Katherine "Kit" FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she's forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend's missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she's telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can't matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and to raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. But as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, the risk of revealing the truth may come at too high a price for those she loves.


My Thoughts: Of all the genres I read, Historical fiction set in Victorian England is far down on my list of favorites. While the characters can often redeem the start of the novel, the circumstances and conflicts are usually the same. Either a man is losing his fortune and needs a wife with a large dowry or a woman is trying to find the perfect husband and avoid scandal. So when, in the first chapter, Graham states that a dowry is a foolish reason to marry someone and that there are better ways to secure a fortune, I knew that I had found a new favorite.

At a few different points in the novel, it is mentioned that Graham tends to bring joy wherever he goes, and that was definitely the case in this book. For a hero in this subgenre to care so little for social conventions and yet still be upright in character is truly astounding, especially when combined with a fun personality rather than an uptight one. Truly, I found his character to have some of the greatest observations, from his musings on children to his opinions of what makes a good man, I could not help but be delighted with most everything the man said.

The other characters are fun as well, with all the characters coming across as real and having their own struggles which had lead them to their callings in life. Each characters' personality is unique and I couldn't help feeling like these were old friends I had spent time with. I certainly hope that I will not have to say good-bye to all of them and that many will appear in the next book in the series. Because that next book is definitely on my must-read list.

Stepping back from the characters however, the story itself is still really good. It follows a woman who is doing the right thing, though in the wrong way, and a man who has never done anything awful, but has also never done anything noteworthy. And both must learn how to trust God with their lives and the blessings He has given them. Kit was amazing relatable in that the feelings many of us have, of wanting to punish and make people pay for the wrongs committed against those we love, she actually was able to exercise. And along the way, she saw letting God handle things instead is so much better.

I have provided an honest review after receiving a copy of the book from the publisher.

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Rumored Fortune- Joanna Davidson Politano

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Tressa Harlowe's father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune--before someone else finds it first.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they'll not soon forget.


My Thoughts: A Rumored Fortune is a romance tied up with a mystery meant to discover a fortune, perhaps one that is less monetary and more eternal. Tressa is a woman caught up in her love for her father and her mother, as well as the expectations of everyone around her. And those expectations are for her to be someone else, someone more selfish and unloving, someone with little care for anything other than the typical life of a woman of her station.

However, Tressa's interests go deeper than that. For her, life is meant to be beautiful as well as about the people that you live it with... even if those people do not agree. The way Tressa sees the world blends into her descriptions. She speaks in a more poetic cadence and relates her thoughts through metaphors in much the same manner. These metaphors delve into value and wealth, centering around the message of the novel which is finding true wealth. Discovering this wealth not only means searching the house she has grown up in, but also evaluating the people who have infiltrated her life at this time.

For me, this poetic nature of the book made it a slower read. I prefer straightforward dialogue and descriptions, finding the story more interesting than the words themselves. The same goes for metaphors, which I prefer to be handled in the plot rather then the characters' internal musings. However, I know that there are many people who find the use of language to be just as important, or  more so, than the rest of the story. And for those who do, I believe that this is a beautifully worded manuscript. Even if the metaphor of grapevines has been done before, it is still a decent one that, when combined with Joanna's writing style, is beautiful as well.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Monday, August 13, 2018

By The Waters of Babylon- Mesu Andrews

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: When Babylon destroys Jerusalem, as Yahweh warned through his prophets, the captives' bitterness and grief pours out in the Captives' Psalm


"[By the rivers of Babylon] we sat as exiles, mourning our captivity, and wept with great love for Zion. Our music and mirth were no longer heard, only sadness. We hung up our harps on the willow trees." (Psalm 137:1-2, The Passion Translation)

A young Israelite woman is among them, captured by a mercenary Scythian prince. Driven toward Babylon by both hatred and hope, she endures captivity to reunite with her husband.

But will he be there when she reaches Babylon? Will the prince risk the Scythian throne--and his life--to believe in the Hebrew God? Can they both find what they seek when they meet the prophet Ezekial. . . by the rivers of Babylon?




My Thoughts: I always look forward to reading another Biblical fiction story by Mesu, who has set herself apart as probably my favorite author in the genre. No matter the characters, I can always anticipate learning something new and engaging with Biblical narratives I had given little thought to in the past.

By the Waters of Babylon is a story based on verses which I had never anticipated seeing turned into a work of fiction. Though I have read the Psalms a few times, I have never really thought about them as telling the story of actual events, but rather as songs which expressed abstract ideas. Clearly, I have not been paying as much attention to those Psalms as I should have been.

Story wise, this novella is short but still lives up to the caliber of storytelling which Mesu exhibits in her other works. So often, novellas fall short of many authors' other works, sacrificing plot or character arcs in order to meet the word count. However, Mesu was able to deliver everything that she has in the past. The only downsides for me in this were <spoiler> that it was not the two main characters who were a couple and that we do not know what ultimately happens to Idan. After spending so much time with him, and knowing the danger he faces on his journey home, I would have liked to have known whether his story ended happily or not </spoiler>.

Still, I am so happy that I was able to read this and I will be able to share it with my friends. If you like Biblical fiction, and especially Mesu's other works, I highly recommend you read this.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ecopy of the book from the author.