Monday, September 30, 2013

Review ~ A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano

Hello Friends, today I have a sneak peak at a book that will release tomorrow! I received my copy from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for a review, but I know I would have bought it anyway. It's just that good! This book is Jen Turano's A Talent for Trouble. It is the third book in her Ladies of Distinction series. You may recall that I reviewed the first book A Change of Fortune earlier this summer.

Summary: Our story begins with a broken heart. You see, Felicia Murdock just knew she was supposed to marry the reverend. Unfortunately, he didn't know that, and married someone else. Broken hearted, and dismayed that EVERYONE seemed to know about her supposedly secret infatuation with him, Felicia decides that it is high time she get back to being herself again, instead of the woman she became to please the reverend. Her mother, meanwhile, is determined to find Felicia a man that is right for her, and decides that Lord Grayson Sumner is just the man for the job. He, along with Felicia's dear friend Agatha, a reporter, are determined to get Felicia out of her funk and into circulation again - well that's Agatha's goal anyway. Grayson is just there to help cheer her up, until his mysterious past from the Far East comes back to endanger them all. Through a myriad of mishaps and adventures, written in the witty, and often downright hilarious style that is Jen Turano, this book will keep you on your toes, and in giggles! From the heights of New York society in 1881 to the slums at the docks (with some misadventures included), A Talent for Trouble is a fantastic read, and it kept me on the edge of my seat - from not just the adventure, but the humor and romance too!

What I liked: First, what a beautiful cover! So eye-catching! I also loved the characters. It was great to get to see Grayson's past. I also appreciated the detail Jen puts into the scenes and costuming of each story. She seems to really know her stuff! Another thing I enjoyed was that she takes the time to show the reader not only what high society looked like, but the slums too. She showed the dangers that these people faced and the struggles they had. It made it real and gave me something to chew on. The details of the opium den and what went on there were heartbreaking. What's worse is that those problems still exist today, and are maybe even worse. Finally, her characters were well developed and entertaining. I can't wait to read what is coming next!

What I didn't care for: While the majority of the book was good, it did have yet another scene where the girls got in trouble down at the docks, and while it fit the book, this is the third time in three books it happened. It didn't really bother me, just stuck out a little bit. It still fit the story and was important to its resolution. Some of the wrap-up with Grayson's past was a bit confusing, but overall was great.

So, if you are looking for a fun read that will keep you guessing and laughing, This is it! It releases tomorrow, October 1, 2013. Yay! Her next book will be about Agatha and Zayne - FINALLY! Hope you enjoy this entertaining historical romantic mystery!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review ~ Unlimited by Davis Bunn

Hello Friends,

So sorry for the long absence. Life has been crazy busy, but I'm back now! Today, I have for you, a review of Davis Bunn's Unlimited - a fantastic story that takes place in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. (I received a complimentary copy from the publisher B&H Books via NetGalley) I've read several other of Mr. Bunn's books, and loved them all. He has the ability to catch you in a fast paced adventure, but still get you to stop and think about what you are reading, and reflect on your life, and God's involvement in it.

Summary: Simon is an MIT dropout bent on making restitution to the one man who believed in him - his former professor now living in the town of Ojinaga, Mexico. Coming at the professor's request, Simon brings with him what he hopes will be his redemption - a device that could save Mexico from corruption and greed. Yet, as soon as he crosses the border, Simon realizes that all is not what it seems. The professor is dead, and Simon finds himself hiding at an orphanage founded and run by Harold Finch, a man who quit a lucrative career with NASA and several other companies to come care for the lost and broken in Mexico, and to show them their unlimited potential in Jesus.

While there, Simon meets several interesting people including Sofia, the local doctor; Pedro, her brother and Assistant Town Manager; Enrique, Sofia's love interest and the mayor of Ojinaga committed to keeping corruption out of his town, and the state as he runs for governor; and Juan, a young teen from the orphanage who does everything he can to help this Yanqui during his visit.

Doing his best to make the device work, while also trying to figure out who killed the professor and who is secretly bringing the cartels into the supposedly safe town, Simon and the rest find themselves serious trouble as things progress.

What I enjoyed: I loved the interactions Simon had with Juan and Harold. Both tugged at my heartstrings. I also enjoyed the adventure of the story, of trying to figure out what the device is, and what it does/is supposed to do. While I figured out who the bad guy was, it took me a while longer to do so, and I was totally stumped about why they kept trying to get the device. I also enjoyed the plot twists Bunn had in there that totally threw me for a loop. Great writing. It brought me back to my missions trips to Mexico on the Baja Peninsula. Different part of the country, but same sandy, hilly desert. It made me miss it, just like his other books made me want to go to Iraq, Israel, and Northern Africa.

Another super cool thing is that the character of Harold Finch is based off a real person, also by the name of Harold Finch. (what a coincidence ;) ) He also worked at NASA and several Fortune 500 companies before feeling God's call to something more. He eventually quit those jobs and moved to India where he runs an orphanage for the lowest castes. Sound familiar? You can learn more about him on his website here. (Side note, the whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking of the main character on CBS's Person of Interest - also named Harold Finch. Now that I know he's a real person, I wonder if the show based the character off him/used it to pay homage to him)

One of the other things I really liked was the spiritual aspect of the story. Mr. Bunn is fantastic at bringing the spiritual side in without it being preachy, but rather convicting. The theme of this book is somewhat obvious. It is unlimited, that is our potential through Christ. Jesus has a plan for our lives, and when we allow him to take control, the potential for success is unlimited. God can and will do incredible things through us if we are willing, and everyone has that potential in side of us. This was hugely convicting for me. Right now, I'm trying to figure out what God wants me to do. I graduate in December with my MDv, but I'm not sure where to go from here. I feel like I haven't been living up to my potential, and have limited myself in many ways because of that. This book convicted me that I need to stop living for me, and live for God and his plan for my life.

What I didn't like: There are a few scenes that are a bit confusing - such as the flashback to what Simon actually did to the professor. It is sort of explained, but sort of not. Did Simon make the professor complicit in his actions, or did the professor just leave? Perhaps I just missed something, but to me, it did not seem clear at all.

Other than that, I really enjoyed the book, and I hope you do too. If you like a good adventure, with some mystery and intrigue, you'll love this book. If you just want a good read that will make you think, this is also for you. Enjoy!