Monthly Recap: March 2014


Books I Read:

Book Reviews:
Where Courage Calls by Janette Oke and Laurel Logan Oke
A March Bride by Rachel Hauck
Summer of Joy by Ann H Gabhart
Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

Find Me Elsewhere: I wrote a featured article for Family Fiction‘s March 2014 digital magazine issue, titled 7 Standout Biblical Fiction Authors. Click here for a direct link to the article.



Review: Tide and Tempest

Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig
Edge of Freedom, Book 3
Bethany House, 2014

My Thoughts:
Murder, suspicion, and danger fill the pages of Elizabeth Ludwig’s final installment to her Edge of Freedom series.

Tillie lives with the guilt and grief of her loss. Her fiancé died on the journey to America, but she soon discovers that his death may not have been an accident. And information she possesses threatens to put her life in danger, too.

Captain Morgan, who led the trip that brought Tillie to America, feels a responsibility to protect Tillie from the danger he suspects. Mystery surrounds Tillie and her deceased fiancé, but will they ever discover the man who is behind this treachery?

I admit I had a difficult time getting into this book. About one hundred pages in, I did start to like it, and from there, the pace picked up and I was intrigued.

I think my difficulty with this book has to do with the writing style. It took me quite some time to connect with the style and flow of this book. It just didn’t sit well with me for a long while. However, once I was able to get past that, I did feel invested in the story and interested to see how events would unfold.

At one point, I thought a crucial character had died, and I was shocked. Luckily, my thoughts that a wonderful character had died were quickly assuaged when I learned that this character did not meet his demise as I was led to believe!

There are many twists and turns, which makes for an exciting read. Add in a bit of romance, and this book is a winner.

Rating: 3 ½ stars

Summary (from the publisher’s website):
Two years ago, her fiance perished during their voyage to America.

Now she discovers it may have been murder…

Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiance by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she’s left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream–to open a home for orphaned children.

Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman’s deathbed confession reveals her fiance’s demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well–dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiance.

I was provided a free e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Summer of Joy

Summer of Joy by Ann H. Gabhart
The Heart of Hollyhill, Book 3
Revell, (2008) 2014

I’m going to get straight to the point– I did not like this book.  I wanted to like it, I tried to like it, but I did not even finish it.

Where I Stopped: Chapter 10, page 78

I’m sure you’re wondering why, so I shall try my best to explain my reasons for putting this book down.

Typically, the first few chapters will tell you a lot about the book you are reading, and what your reading experience will be like. This book did not interest me at all; there was no hook.

First, there were too many characters. I couldn’t figure out who’s who, and it was confusing.

Second, the plot. I couldn’t see what the story arc was. Is seemed to be going nowhere. It just didn’t grab my attention.

Finally, mix in a little Jupiter, and I was lost as a reader. I felt completely unconnected to any of the characters, and the plot felt like it wasn’t there. I wasn’t invested in the story.

BUT Just because I didn’t enjoy this book, doesn’t mean you won’t. If you like this author, series, the sixties, or books with a large, family-like cast of characters, you will like this book.

I was provided a free e-copy (through NetGalley) of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to Revell and the Revell Reads program for providing me a copy of the book for review.

Disclaimer: I struggled to write this review, and I hesitate to share my opinion, as it is a negative one. However, because I am required to write a review for Revell’s program, I must honestly share my thoughts.

Review: A March Bride by Rachel Hauck

A March Bride by Rachel Hauck
A Year of Weddings Novella
Zondervan, 2014

My Thoughts:
If you read Once Upon a Prince, this novella is a must-read! In A March Bride, Susanna and Nathaniel return as they prepare for their upcoming nuptials. Of course, I loved this novella, probably because Once Upon a Prince is currently my favorite contemporary novel, and I’ve been dying to read more about this couple.

Three weeks until the wedding, and Susanna gets news that, after everything she has already done to become the princess of another nation, it is not enough; they want more. Her citizenship, to be specific. And not just that, but also to renounce her American citizenship. Sounds a little extreme, no? That revelation would cause you to have doubts, too, right? Right.  So, of course, Susanna is rocked by this last hurdle that separates her from marrying the man she loves.

Susanna must decide if she is willing to give everything up. And Nathaniel is desperate to do anything to keep her. Will their love withstand this last obstacle? Can Nathaniel prove his love is strong and enduring?

Again, I loved this novella. It is a short and sweet story, and there is, of course, a promised happy ending.

Rating: 4 stars

Summary (taken from Rachel Hauck’s website):
In A March Bride by award-winning author Rachel Hauck, Susanna Truitt (Once Upon A Prince) is three weeks from marrying her prince, King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom.

But when a final request comes from the government for her to renounce her American citizenship, couple with the lack of attendance to her wedding by family and friends, doubt seeds her heart. Is this God’s plan for her?

Losing Susanna is Nathaniel’s greatest fear. Marrying a king means her life will never be her own — right down to her very identity.

When she travels home to Georgia before the wedding, Nathaniel is unsure she’ll return. Gathering his courage, he devices a plan to win his bride all over again and prove her heart is the “kingdom” which he treasures above all.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Where Courage Calls

Where Courage Calls by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
A When Calls the Heart Novel
Bethany House, 2014

My Thoughts:
When I saw this book up for review, I jumped at the opportunity. This book is the companion story to Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart TV series. If you haven’t heard of the TV series, it is a wonderful, wholesome, family-friendly show that I love watching. So, I had to read the book that inspired the series!

Beth Thatcher is a strong, loving, determined character. She decides to go West in order to teach the children of a small town and leaves behind her family and her life of comfort. Upon arrival to her destination, Beth is faced with the harsh realization that her life for the next year is not like anything she had expected.

She experiences the trials and triumphs of life in the mining town of Coal Valley. She has ideas which turn into events that bring the community together. She is busy with school and after-school programs. Her ideas bring new life to the community, and her time in Coal Valley changes the way she sees things.

This book is a story about a young woman learning who she is and what she is capable of amidst the hardships she faces. During her time in Coal Valley, Elizabeth discovers how to become a contributing part of the community and enriches the lives the people she came to know, just as they, in return, enrich her life.

A good book, but a bit too slow for my preference. However, long-time fans of Janette Oke will love this book.

Rating: 3 stars

*I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Summary (from the back cover):
Her courage and her heart will be tested in ways she never expected…

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father’s wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she’d feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don’t even speak English. There isn’t even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth’s heart is torn between two young men–both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she’s had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?

7 Standout Biblical Fiction Authors

Today, I’m dropping in to let you all know where you can find me on the web! I had the wonderful opportunity to write a feature article for Family Fiction‘s digital magazine. This is a great Christian fiction website and magazine, which I highly recommend you check out.

To read my article, 7 Standout Biblical Fiction Authors, in the March 2014 issue, click here. You can find my article on pages 18 and 19.