Monday, January 15, 2018

The Lacemaker- Laura Frantz

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth "Liberty" Lawson is abandoned by her fiance and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

My Thoughts: This is by far my favorite of Laura's books since Courting Marrow Little, and it may even challenge that favorite of mine. The Lacemaker is full of intrigue and romance, with hardly a dull moment. I loved the setting of colonial Williamsburg, and could not have hoped for more from a Historical Romance set at the start of the Revolutionary War.

Though my research (done to confirm whether or not these characters had actually existed) revealed that Noble Rynallt and Liberty had not been real people, I honestly for much of this book thought that they must have been. While the other patriots were all people whose names I recognized from history class, I would not have thought it beyond an author to give life to a lesser known figure. Sadly, I had to seek out that information myself rather than finding it in a historical note in the back of the book, this being the only thing I had against the book.

Beyond that exceedingly irrelevant fact, I found The Lacemaker to be a fantastic novel, one that I will gladly recommend to any Historical Romance readers, as well as many who just read Historicals. And (encase my adoration had not come across in the rest of my review) I think that anyone reading this review, should read this book.

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Dangerous Legacy- Elizabeth Camden

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Lucy Drake's mastery of Morse code has made her a valuable asset to the American news agencies as a telegrapher. But the sudden arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith at rival British news agency Reuters puts her hard-earned livelihood at risk. Newly arrived from London, Colin is talented, handsome, and insufferably charming.

Despite their rivalry, Lucy realizes Colin's connections could be just what her family needs to turn the tide of their long legal battle over the fortune they were swindled out of forty years ago. When she negotiates an unlikely alliance with him, neither of them realizes how far the web of treachery they're wading into will take them.

My Thoughts: I have read plenty of novels in my life in which Morse code played a part in the narrative, however this is the first time I have seen it played out in the setting of a newspaper industry. The history between AP and Reuters was something that I enjoyed learning about, along with how new stories were dispersed in that day. Sometimes it is difficult to wrap my mind around the realization the internet is not as old as it seems to those of us who cannot remember a time without it, and that the spread of information would have had to have been far more deliberate.

The history and research represented in this novel were interesting, driving the story a bit better than the plot in my mind. While the court case over the valves remind the main conflict, most of what took place actually revolved around the ingenuity of the telegraph, the usefulness of homing pigeons, and the struggle of everyone to find happiness in an economic system that is so often is manipulated to work against them.

In all of this, the actual romance between Lucy and Colin seemed to get lost. They were drawn to each other from the start, but individual pursuits of happiness created a wall between them that both determined in the beginning not to cross. This made their romance difficult for me to get behind, as Colin actively sought other wifely candidates. Also, Lucy continuously broke the law in order to further her own goals, practically forcing everyone who knew to either silently support her or else turn her in to the police. And Nick and Colin just went with it.

There were not any major flaws that I saw with this work, nothing that made me intensely dislike it or  wish that I had never picked it up. But there also was not much that interested me. The history, as I said before, was interesting, but history alone cannot drive a story when the characters behave in ways that kept me from connecting with them.

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

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Renegades- Marissa Meyer

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

My Thoughts: I will start by saying that I did read this books in two days. Though long, it has a pacing that keeps you glued to the text and skipping through the pages with easy. The main renegades (i.e. Adrien's team, not the council) are easily distinguishable and both Adrian and Nova have personalities that are engaging. Yet the Superhero theme seemed to be to be both a hit and a miss.

The hit is that the story has engaging action and that most everything was bright colors and chaos in my imagination. But the miss was that I found it really heard to believe that this was what would come from a worldwide collapse of government. I also struggled to accept that idea that prodigies (superheroes) have existed all along, but were pretty much always killed off before the public could hear about them. This might have made sense, if the prodigies were like mutants and had their powers since birth. Yet, at about the two-third's marker, it is revealed that this is not the case, but that most prodigies receive their powers through a traumatic event in their life. Which leads me to question, how awful are all these people's lives if there are hundreds and hundreds prodigies and 72 percent were not born with those powers?

The story is engaging, one that I intend to continue with in the next book. Yet it is entertaining in a very high level of suspension of disbelief sort of way. And for me, that disbelief was an active choice to keep going even when I stumbled across so many holes in logic, as well as a good portion of the story that I felt could have been cut without losing anything.

In the end, I do not want to put anyone off of reading this. There is still a lot of entertainment to be had, I just want everyone to know what they are in for.

If you liked this review, and want to see more for books like it, let me know in the comments. You can also follow me on Goodreads, where I post reviews for all the books I read, including those that I was not given for review.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Habits of the Heart: 365 Daily Exercises for Living Like Jesus- Katherine J. Butler

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Are you “out of shape” spiritually? Do you long for a life that is fully and deeply engaged with the Creator? Does your heart ache to be transformed by God? Real change happens only when we train ourselves to be in the habit of exercising our hearts in the practice of godliness. The Bible says that training the body is of some value, but the most important thing we can do is to train our spirit. Habits of the Heart will help you develop practices that draw you into a deeper and lasting relationship with God. Each day of the year, this simple guide will help you focus on one essential aspect of your walk with God and show you how to make it a habit.

Features: Unique cover material featuring wood texture stamped with a bronze foil Elegant interior design with full-color end papers and a ribbon marker 365 devotions offer a meaningful, yet practical, way to exercise your heart in the practice of godliness Each week immerses you in a specific practice: conversational prayer, unplugging from life’s daily grind, waiting on God, being watchful, and much more.

My Thoughts: When I first picked this up for review, I was not expecting it to be as small as it is. Each day's exercise includes 1-3 verses along with a paragraph or two explaining what it is that you should do that day. Some times the book asks you to do actual tasks, like chose a different drive to work or to give something you own to someone else, however most of the exercises are mental and reflective ones.

To be honest, I did not find the exercises to be long enough. I would have preferred something that I could devote more time to and to really grapple with each week's lesson. Because the exercises were so short, I usually read two or three in one sitting, combining the exercises into one. Now, this definitely defeated the point of it being a 365 day plan, but once I finish, I can always go back and start it over again.

And that plan is something that I already think I might do. The exercises, though short, are most often good ones. There were some that I thought were silly, and a few which I did not believe to be applicable to my situation, but overall, I enjoyed it. I would recommend it to those looking for something short which they can do at the start of the day (all of the exercises require that you read them in morning and then act on them later as you go about your regular schedule), just not to those searching for something immersive.

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