Friday, July 19, 2013

Review ~ Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck

Hello Friends!

I've been thinking lately. Every girl wants to be a princess right? I mean who hasn't at one time wondered what it would be like to have a REAL prince come along and sweep them off their feet? Ok, I'm sure someone out there never had that thought, and that's ok, but for those of us that have, it is a pretty exhilarating thought! 

I admit it. I was totally one of those crazy Americans who got up and watched the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton who just happen to have a couple cameos in this book. Ok, so I didn't get up at 4 am, I got up at around 8 I think, and watched it on E! (hey, Angela Lansbury was one of the commentators, and you can't beat that! So I might be obsessed with Beauty and the Beast.) And then I watched it again to make sure I didn't miss anything. Yes, my husband probably thought I was nuts, but I didn't care! A normal girl just became a princess for goodness sake! That NEVER happens. In that moment, the world changed, and every single girl knew that it could happen to her. 

Growing up, I wasn't obsessed with princesses or anything. For Pete's sake I HATED pink. But I loved books, and Beauty and the Beast was right up my alley. (My husband splurged and bought me the diamond edition on Blu-Ray for me when it came out for my birthday) I remember when I was a teenager and the first Princess Diaries movie came out. I went with my mom and my younger sister. After we walked out of the theater, I turned to my mom and asked her "So, Mom, is there anything you want to tell me? I mean, my name is Sarah after all, which means 'princess.'" You never know who is in your past or future, so why not ask? Ok, on to the books! I'll finish the story later.

I've got a contemporary romance for you today! Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck. This is the first book of hers that I have read, and it also happens to be the first in her Royal Weddings series.

Summary: Sometimes, a great romance begins with a breakup. That's what happened to Susanna Truitt when her boyfriend of twelve years dumped her on the beach in front of her parents BBQ shack on St. Simon's Island, Georgia. Brokenhearted, she declares that it will be a snowy day in Georgia before she ever falls in love again. Meanwhile, Nate Kenneth, or rather Prince Nathaniel II of Brighton is visiting the cute island for his summer vacation. As he escapes for a drive around the island the two happen to meet under the Lover's Oak, and well, the rest is history. Or is it? Nate is the crown prince of his country, and there is a law that forbids him from marrying anyone outside his country. Then there is the sticky political mess his country is dealing with thanks to a hundred year old entail practically forcing him into a marriage he doesn't want. Meanwhile, Susanna loses everything, house, job, almost fiancee, and now a prince she didn't really want anyway. Yet through it all, they both rely on God's direction and prompting. Where will it lead? You'll have to read to find out!

What I loved: The cover! Isn't it just incredible? It's beautiful. Sometimes, a cover really does make the book. The characters were fantastic. I loved Susanna's spunk, and her sister's wide-eyed innocence. I loved their faith in God and trust in his provision. It is so hard to give up our dreams, especially when we've got them all planned out, and follow God's plan instead. This story is the perfect example of God's best being waaaay better than our good. Prince Nathaniel was wonderful too, as was his cousin. :) Hope he appears again! I loved the cameos by the British Royals. Sigh. The story was so sweet too, and it made me crave BBQ.

What I didn't like: That it ended. Seriously! It made me wish I was there. Some of the politics were a little confusing, but I was able to mostly follow along.

Application: Ok back to my mom's response after I asked if we were princesses. She laughed at me and told me that as far as she knew there were no kingdoms in my past or my future - at least not earthly ones. They she reminded me that as a Christian, I am a daughter of the King, and that alone makes me a princess! I tried telling her that wasn't the same as having a castle here on earth. Her reply, "You're right. It's even better!" You see, what my mom was reminding me of, was that Heaven is forever. As a daughter of King Jesus, whose kingdom never ends, I will have a mansion in Heaven forever, and I will be his daughter, his princess forever as well. Every Christian will, and already is! How AWESOME is that?!

This book also talked a lot about our plans verses God's plans. Susanna had everything in her life planned out, and when one thing went wrong, everything did. Yet instead of massively panicking, she gave it to God - and a whole lot sooner than I would have! Living on the edge is not my idea of fun, but I've learned that God will always be there to catch me. Ever had a time like that in your life?

Overall: Another fantastic story! I'm excited for the next book to come out! Meanwhile, I'm going to go read more of her books. I currently have The Wedding Dress sitting on my nightstand, and I think it just might get read very soon! :) I'm off to go re-watch the two Princess Diaries movies. :D What about you, what's your favorite princess movie or book?

Happy Readings!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review ~ A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Hello Friends! Two posts in one day? Yes, I know, I went two weeks without a post, and now two in one day. What can I say? I write when it comes to me! :) I want to keep this fun, so I told myself I would only review a book when I felt like writing about it. Otherwise, it would be forced and make it work, and this isn't supposed to be work. :) So here it is, another book I read in one day - and yes, it kept me up til almost 3 am...totally worth it!

Today, I'm reviewing A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano. This is her fist full length novel, and the second book by her that I have read. The first, Gentleman of Her Dreams is a  free e-novella  that takes place before this book does.

Summary: In A Change of Fortune, it is 1880, and Miss (or rather, Lady) Eliza Sumner finds herself in New York as a governess to one of the city's up and coming "rich and famous" families. Formerly from England, where she was titled, and the daughter of a wealthy Lord, as well as engaged to one of London's most eligible bachelors, she lost everything, including her gold digging fiance when a conniving accountant stole everything and high-tailed it to America - New York City specifically. Lady Eliza follows him there, disguising herself as a governess in order to ferret out his whereabouts without giving herself away. She soon finds herself in far over her head as she runs into - literally - the most eligible bachelor and widower in New York, Mr. Hamilton Beckett. As she tries to find her treasure, and the man who stole it, Lady Eliza discovers that she and Mr. Beckett have much in common, including a mutual interest in a mysterious lord from England! Filled with love, adventure, and two very adorable children, this book will have you turning the pages to find out just what happens next!

What I loved: The cast of characters were delightful! I loved Eliza and Hamilton, as well as his brother Zayne and her friend Agatha. I can't wait to see how their story plays out! I also loved the children, Piper and Ben. Bereft without a mother - and serious nanny problems, these two totally steal the show. I also loved the surprise near the end, though it definitely left me with more questions than answers - which obviously means I need to read the next story to find out what happens! I also enjoyed the cute scheming of the mothers to get their children happy. Sometimes, that can be annoying, but this time it was cute! Finally, I loved Mr. Theodore Wilder. I hear that he's the star of the next book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance and I can't wait to watch him and the suffragette, Arabella Beckett interact!

I also loved the story itself. While there were some parts that dragged a little, overall, it kept me reading and wanting to finish. I loved reading about two respectable women suddenly being thrown in jail, trying to be news reporters, and carrying guns for safety, all the while traipsing around at night in pants in order to carry out their mission to find Lady Eliza's gold! Too much fun!

What I didn't like: Lawrence. UGH! Why didn't they just punch him in the face and get it over with. Seriously. Thickheaded men. Why Lady Eliza didn't just slap him silly, I'll never know. Sigh. This is probably while I'll never be a lady. ;)

Overall: Great read! I really enjoyed it. I loved the suffrage stuff that appeared here and there, but wasn't overwhelming. I loved the wit and humor, and the ability of the women to take care of themselves, yet still rely on the men when they needed them. Hope you enjoy it too!

Happy Reading!


Review ~ A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman

Yes, I know, I'm reviewing another book by Julie Lessman. No, I'm not playing favorites or getting anything to do so. When I read a book and love it, I then usually read everything else by that author I can get my hands on. That's what is going on here. I probably won't review every book by an author as I seem to be with Ms. Lessman's books, it just happens that I really REALLY liked the ones I've read thus far and thought them good enough to review. :) Don't worry! Other authors are coming up too!

A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman is the second in her Daughters of Boston Series, and the third book that I have reviewed by her. The other two, A Passion Most Pure and A Hope Undaunted, are the first and the fourth books about the O'Connor family of Boston. This book is about Charity, the second sister. You may remember her from A Passion Most Pure, as Faith's nemesis (and younger sister).

Summary: Wow. Two words: Roller. Coaster.

Charity stayed in Ireland after the rest of her family returned to Boston. She stayed for two reasons. First, because she can not bear to face her family, especially Faith, and her father, after what she had done. Second, she is determined to win the heart of the one that got away, Mitch Dennehy - her sister's former fiancee, and the man of Charity's dreams. Unfortunately, Mitch wants nothing more to do with Charity, her seduction, or her lies. In order to win Mitch back, Charity devises a plan: pretend to fall in love with Mitch's arch-nemesis Rigan Gallagher. Rigan is rich, handsome, and the son of the owner of the newspaper that Mitch works for. He seems perfect, except for one thing. He is overly possessive of Charity. As the story progresses, and Charity and Mitch are thrown together both in Ireland, and in Boston, they both have to deal with the mistakes they have made in the past, and grab hold of the forgiveness Christ offers them in order to move forward in their lives.

What I loved: Emma! Emma is Charity's friend from the shop they both work at. Emma gives Charity a level head-ish, and uses her own bad situation to encourage Charity to be careful in her relationships. I loved Charity's relationships with her grandmother and great grandmother as well. They are too fun! I also enjoyed hearing from the rest of the O'Connor's back in Boston. Finally, I love the lessons that Charity FINALLY seems to learn.

What I didn't care for: Rigan. Ugh. I also didn't care for Charity's manipulations and lies. However, there is a plot point that explains some of her behavior, and while it doesn't excuse it, it does help the reader better understand Charity and her actions. Other thing: sometimes the drama was a little bit much. Don't get me wrong, I loved the book, but sometimes the "which guy should she pick" stories are a bit much for me, and all of Ms. Lessman's books that I have read thus far fall into that category. Can't anyone in this family have a simple "boy meets girl, falls in love, proposes" story? ;) Oh well, they are still great books!

Application: Oh, where to start...first, lying and manipulations may seem to get you what you want, but they can and will destroy whatever relationship you have with that person. Is getting what you want really worth all that? Probably not. Besides, when we lie and manipulate, we aren't trusting God to take care of it for us. Second, small PSA here: if you are in an abusive relationship: GET OUT! If you suspect someone is, get them help. On the other hand, don't even THINK about crying wolf when it comes to abuse. Far too many people actually are abused and have a hard enough time getting the help they need without liars making stuff up for attention, or to get what they want. If you are trying to get out, just leave. You don't have to make stuff up to leave. Though, if you feel the need to make stuff up, you probably need to check with God to find out what's really going on, and get your priorities straight.

Finally, I want you to remember that like Charity, it doesn't matter what you have done in your life, God still loves you. He is your Father. I know many people haven't had a good example of that in their lives, and thinking of God that way is difficult. That is ok. God loves you, and wants what is the very best for you, no matter who you are or what you have done. If you seek God out, he WILL accept you and forgive everything you have ever done. All you have to do is ask. You are pleasing to him, and worthy in his eyes. God's love is all sustaining. He will never fail you. It may seem like it sometimes, but I promise he hasn't.

Overall, I loved this book. It took me for a ride with all the bumps and turns, but it was worth it. It touched my heart in a way that hasn't happened in a long time. I totally cried during the last fifty pages. I hope you enjoy it, and the rest of the Daughters of Boston series!

Happy Reading,


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review ~ A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

Hello again, Friends! this one, I behaved while reading. I was only up until two each morning...granted several mornings...instead of five. :)

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman is the first book in her Daughters of Boston trilogy. Like my earlier review of A Hope Undaunted, this book also follows the O'Connor Family of Boston. This first book tells the story of Faith, Charity, and their mutual love for an Irish Rogue named Collin McGuire. If you love Downton Abbey, you will love this book and the family within!

Synopsis: Faith, the oldest sister in the family has been in love with Collin since she was a girl. Faith also lives up to her name, and has a very strong relationship with God, something neither Collin, nor her sister Charity share. From the beginning, Collin has no idea she loves him, he is too enamored with sixteen year old Charity. Charity, on the other hand, knows full well that Faith loves Collin, and knows how to use that against her at every turn. Charity also wants him for herself and does everything she can to make that happen. Faith's belief in God keeps her from responding in kind, until Charity does something that pushes everyone over the edge.

Meanwhile, The Great War  is raging, and everyone fears that the United States will get involved. Parents Marcy and Patrick struggle handling the hostility and jealousy between their two daughters, Collin, a player from the wrong side of the tracks, and the threat of war that may tear their family apart before the discord within has a chance to.

From Boston, to Ireland, France and back, this book is full of excitement, heartbreak, faith, and love. The O'Connor family must deal with all of these issues while still trying to be the close family they have always been

What I loved: I love the O'Connor family. They are so fun and exciting. I love how strong Faith's relationship with God is, and how even though she loses sight of that for a while, God still prevails. I love the relationship between Marcy and Patrick. They are so in love even after so many years of marriage, and even though they have their fights, they always turn back to each other. I love that Faith held on to her morals and beliefs in spite of her emotions and physical attractions. I loved how real these characters were. You felt their agony and pain. During some of the scenes with Charity and Faith, I felt myself crying at the injustice of it all, or angry at how cruel Charity, could be. As I was reading, I realized how much this family reminded me of Downton Abbey. It is not the same story, however, it is the same time period, and while there are no servants, some of the drama is a bit similar - in a very good way. If you loved Downton Abbey, you'll love this book.

What I didn't like as much: I disliked how back and forth the love triangle went. I also didn't like how convicting this book was to me personally....which probably means I needed to read it, right? ;)

Application: Jealousy and sibling rivalry are something that many people struggle with, even when they don't admit to it. Mrs. Gerson and Grandma are both right when they remind the girls that jealousy can ruin you on the inside, and destroy your relationships on the outside. Like one character learned, jealousy and revenge can get you what you want, but they will also destroy you and everyone else involved at the same time. We all need to give up our jealousy - big or small - and our desire for revenge. There is a reason God says "Vengeance is mine, I will repay."

Obedience to God is also difficult sometimes. Sometimes doing it "my way" feels better. Sometimes, like a few characters, doing something in anger, and keeping one's self angry may keep away the pain for a little while, but doing so destroys our relationship with God. When we are focused on being angry, we lose sight of the good that God wants to do. It may not be the good that we want, but it is. God's best is always better than our good.

Finally, never underestimate the power of prayer. If the book wasn't clear enough, I will be: God answers prayer! It isn't a myth, and it isn't a delusion. It may not be the answer we want, but He will still answer. Never give up praying. If God has placed something or someone on your heart, PRAY FOR IT!!! :) Pray for His will to be done. Pray for salvation for that loved one. Pray for miracles. God can and does take the worst situations and use them for His glory, and He can and does save anyone who asks no matter their background, lifestyle, or any other reason or excuse we can give.

Overall, a fantastic read. The story was wonderful, and the characters endearing. I'm excited to see what happens to Charity in the next book, A Passion Redeemed. While I did not care for her much in this book, seeing what happened to her in A Hope Undaunted gave me hope for Charity's character. She was a good villain in this book, it will be interesting to see what she's like as the heroine. I can't wait to see how God grabs her!

As for A Passion Most Pure, I highly recommend it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

God bless, and happy reading!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Review ~ Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

Hello Friends! Here's another book that keep me up reading til 5 am just to finish it! (I promise, I do sleep at night...sometimes!)

Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska is a cute contemporary romance by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss. I discovered these two authors through their book Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington. While these are the only two books I've read by Ms. Fleiss, Tricia Goyer has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I love everything I've read by her. She has this way of drawing you in and makes everything seem interesting. Her WWII novels are so real, its like I'm there.

Synopsis: This novel, however, is not historical, but modern day, sort of. This is the story of Ginny Marshall and Brett Miller. But it is also the story of Ellie, a young lady from California during the early 1900's. Ginny is the worlds next biggest music star who just lands a huge recording contract, has a famous and rich boyfriend, and everything else she ever wanted - except one thing. Someone who really knows her, understands her past, and can help her decide what to do next. Enter Brett Miller, her ex-fiance who she ran away from in order to pursue her music. She returns to his home in Glacier Bay, Alaska for his advice and ends up with much, much more. While there, she stays with his grandmother, a sweet woman who has spent her life praying for the right woman to come along for Brett. As her relationship with Grandma grows, Ginny is introduced to Ellie through letters that Grandma has collected. Ellie's story is woven throughout the book via the letters, and is as bittersweet as Ginny's.

I originally thought this book was going to be a light, quick read. Instead, I got a book packed with emotion and a beautiful love story that was not bound by time. Ellie's story, and Ginny's as well, made me want to weep with agony, and giggle with joy. The heartbreak they went through was so real, and yet, it was not the end of the story. Love was.

Things I loved: The scenery of Glacier Bay and the people in the town. In the Author's Note, it seems that some of the more colorful characters in town are real people - how cool is that?! I seriously want to go to Glacier Bay now! (Side note, a friend just got back from an Alaskan cruise and posted pictures. Where were the best ones from? You guessed it - Glacier Bay, Alaska! It was awesome to see pictures of the places I was just reading about!) I also loved the themes of prayer running throughout. Finally, I loved that foster care and adoption played such a huge part in this story, both in the modern day part, and the letters from the past. These ladies did a fantastic job letting the reader understand the pain that a foster child can go through, and the importance of forever families, as well as the importance of forgiveness and not letting the past rule you.

Things I didn't like as much: The story of Brett and Ginny seemed to take a bit of a back seat to the one from the letters. It wasn't bad, I just wish there could have been a bit more. Their romance happened fast, but maybe that is because they already had a history. Second, there were a few typos in the kindle edition - and a reference to the Parent Trap 2 when they really meant the The Parent Trap remake from the 1990's.

Overall, a really good read. Yes, it was fast, but the story was so compelling! I loved it, and highly recommend it, especially if you love a book with great scenery, and history!

God bless, and Happy Reading!


Review ~ A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

Well, here it is, my first review. Hopefully I can do this book justice while keeping your interest as well. Originally, I had a list of books I wanted to review first, ones that I had won in various contests. This book was not on that list, but after staying up til 5 am two nights in a row just so I could finish it, I decided to put it at the top of my list. :)

Background: A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman is the first book in the Winds of Change series. This is her second series following the wonderful O'Connor family of Boston, MA. The first series, The Daughters of Boston tells the stories the three oldest O'Connor sisters - Faith, Charity, and Elizabeth, while the Winds of Change tells the stories of the youngest daughter Katie, and the two sons, Sean and Steven. Each book is focused on the love story of one sibling, with the rest of the family in the background. For those who have read the first series, don't worry, you still get to keep up with the older siblings and their families. For those that haven't, you won't get lost. Ms. Lessman does a fantastic job of weaving a story that draws you in and makes you care about each character in the book.

Synopsis: This particular story is about Katie and her former nemesis Luke McGee. It's the late 1920's and Katie has everything she could want, a well to do loving family, a rich boyfriend wrapped around her finger, and plans to go to Law School to fight for women's rights. She has no real use for God, or controlling men. She wants to live life her way, and save the world doing so. And then, it all comes crashing down. Suddenly, Katie finds herself barred from seeing her boyfriend Jack, or any of her old friends for that matter, and forced to volunteer at the Boston Children's Association finding homes for orphans and children abandoned by their parents. Not only that, but she is forced to work with her childhood nemesis, Luke McGee, who is no longer the scrawny "street rat" she remembers him being. Meanwhile, Faith and Collin run into some trouble when his past comes knocking, as do Mother(Marcy) and Father(Patrick) as they deal with Katie and Steven's rebellion, and other surprises that test their marriage to its limits.

This story helped me fall in love with the O'Conner family, and made me go back and read the first series (reviews coming I hope!). Ms. Lessman's writing style pulls you in and never lets go! I felt like I was in the late 1920's right along with this family. I felt their joy and their pain. Watching Katie make mistakes and then learn from them made me feel like I was right there with her. I felt her pain and tears, along with those of the other characters.

A few things I really loved: the focus on the orphans and caring for them. I have a heart for these kids, and it was encouraging reading about Gabe finding a home, and the impact that had on the characters. It was also interesting to learn more about how orphans were dealt with during that time. I never really knew about orphan trains, or anything like that. I also loved that we got to catch up with the rest of the family, and see how they were doing. I loved how real the situations and characters were. They had faults and messed up a lot. They were passionate and stupid at times, they made mistakes, but eventually learned from them with God's help. Finally, I loved the spiritual and practical applications this book gives.

A Few things I didn't like so muchI cannot think of anything I did not like about this book, other than it ended. :) Ms. Lessman is a little detailed at times in some of the more romantic situations, which might bother some readers (very passionate kisses), but she stays far away from the line, and her situations are quite true to life, so take that as you will. I personally was not bothered by it, but wanted to give a warning for those that are. :)

ApplicationFirst, the main theme seemed to be to surrender everything to Christ, so that he can give us his best. The biggest enemy of God's best is not doing the wrong thing, but settling for what seems good. God wants his best for us, and if we allow him to lead and guide us, he will give it! (This theme pops up in her other books as well). Second, I loved the focus on the importance of marriage and trust. Faith and Collin go through a trial when his past creeps up on them. As a wife who just celebrated her third anniversary, I am learning the importance of trust in a marriage, and how both spouses should never forget that after God, our marriage is the most important thing in our lives. Marcy and Patrick are reminded of that as well when they face several difficult situations and the mistakes they made raising their children. This book convicted me in places, and reminded me of the importance of marriage, my relationship with Christ, and that choices I make can and sometimes do affect my future relationships.

Overall, fantastic read! I highly recommend this book, and the rest of both series. Hopefully, I'll finish them soon, and perhaps post a review as well. If you have any tips on how to write a better review, please let me know! This is my first shot, and I wasn't sure what to write.

God bless and Happy Reading!