Diamond in the Rough

If I was talking to you in person I’d be all dramatic and be like “Yo, human! It’s been basically forever since I wrote a book review – probably like 372 weeks.” But, since I’m blogging I’ll be a lot more professional and sound like an adult rather than, well, whatever weirdness that ^ sounded like.

So, I’ll just calmly state that I’m slightly amazed that I haven’t written a book review for nearly two months. The good news is I knew these last few months were going to be crazy, so I refrained from requesting books for review during that time. Therefore, I’m not behind. Well, except for the book that I’m about to review.

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 352
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Title: Diamond in the Rough
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy’s grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

“Oops, I probably shouldn’t have requested this book for review” was what I thought about the book.

My disclaimer is this: I’m not the target audience for this author, and therefore I’ll refrain from requesting more of her books for review in the future because I don’t feel like my reviews give a fair picture of her writing.

Miss Jen writes over-the-top, crazy instances that wouldn’t actually happen in real life, especially during the time periods that her books take place. Her characters are also generally fairly unrealistic. I understand that this is on purpose to create amusement in the reader and that’s great. I know it’s a talent to be able to write like Miss Jen does and she’s good at her job. It’s just not a style I enjoy.

The first half of this book was going to get a solid two stars from me, but then the second half of the story snagged my interest and I upped my rating to three stars. Once again though, this is completely subjective and has a lot more to do with me rather than the writing or plot.

CONCLUSION

My conclusion is that this review is going to be wholly unhelpful for y’all because I’m pretty much just saying the book wasn’t my style and so, therefore, it drove me slightly crazy to read it. But, that it’s not a reflection of the book itself. So helpful, right?

Really though, I’d be delighted to hear from you as to if you like this style of book?

do sometimes enjoy reading something along the lines of this story – mainly if I’ve had an incredibly busy and mind-numbing week, and I need to just relax. This book was very comparable to Hallmark movies.

RATING

I’m giving Diamond in the Rough 3 out of 5 stars. I’m thankful to Bethany House Publishers for giving me an e-copy so I could review it for y’all.

The Most Important Stories of the Bible?

It’s Thursday and the camels next door have been calling out to each other a lot this morning. (Who would have ever thought I’d start a blog post with that line?!?)

I’m so thankful to finally be catching up with book reviews. This is the last one I’ve had sitting here waiting for me to write, and I’m thrilled to be about ready to push the publish button. It’s also kinda exciting because last time I went home I picked up three more book packages from publishing companies to open, but I told myself I wouldn’t do anything with them until I was caught up on reviews.

I’ve had some exciting things happen at work recently that I look forward to sharing with y’all soon. Among other things Monday was my three month anniversary of moving to Kentucky. My original plan was to be here for three months, but… Well, that’s a story for another day. For now, here’s my book review. Have a great day, folks!

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 190
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Title: The Most Important Stories of the Bible
Nonfiction

4

ABOUT THE BOOK

Most of us are familiar with the exciting adventures of David and Goliath, Noah, or Daniel in the lions’ den, but we don’t always understand how they fit together. We lack context, and so we sometimes miss the point.

The Most Important Stories of the Bible will give you a working knowledge of the key events in Scripture and how they flow into one big story. The book’s 75 stories are compact, easy to read, and enjoyable. Each chapter includes a brief introduction that gives historical context to help you grasp the overall narrative of the Bible, and concludes with an explanation of why that story matters in our lives.

There’s a reason most of the Bible is made up of stories. They speak to us in a deep way, helping us internalize God’s message. And in the end, understanding the stories of God’s Word will help us connect more closely to Jesus, the greatest storyteller of all.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Plain and simple: Because I was curious.

I dislike it when people refer to Biblical accounts as stories (which in todays lingo brings to mind fiction, which the Bible obviously isn’t), so I nearly didn’t request the book. But then my desire to see what “stories” (aka, accounts) from the Bible were included in the book made me request it after all.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

The book was a pleasant surprise to me. I think the title is a misnomer and not entirely true anyway, but other than that I only had a few minor disagreements with the book.

I think a better way of marketing the book would be to tout it as an overview of how the Bible works as a cohesive whole – and that’s kind of what is talked about on the back cover blurb.

The book is short, and the chapters only a couple pages long. Therefore, it was easy to sit down and take a few minutes to breeze through the book. I read it over the course of a couple of days and greatly enjoyed how one chapter flowed into the next – complete with a timeline, a paragraph about how the two accounts connected to each other, and a thought to ponder at the end of each segment. (Some of which I agreed with, some I didn’t…)

It was a bit confusing to me trying to figure out who the book was designed for – a Christian who understood the Bible? A new Christian trying to figure out what the Bible was all about? An unbeliever? There were times when I felt like the wording was a bit confusing for someone unfamiliar with the Bible, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because hopefully that would make them find an actual Bible to dig around in and get answers.

As someone who grew up reading the Bible, I really enjoyed the new perspective of how things fit together, as well as the way the authors told the accounts. They weren’t trying to quote the Bible word for word, so it was more the way that you would imagine someone sitting down and regaling you with an account in their own words. Because of that, I got to see the Bible through someone else’s perspective which was interesting.

CONCLUSION

There were a few places I disagreed with how they interpreted something from the Bible, but that’s not uncommon in books (or life). I probably won’t be re-reading the book, but I did enjoy the chance to get new perspectives on how everything flows together.

Also, obviously the title, but we already went over that.

RATING

I’m giving The Most Important Stories of the Bible 4 out of 5 stars. I’m thankful for the publisher for giving me a copy so I could review it here.

Across the Blue

It’s time for me to review some of the books I read while I was gone on vacation, and that’s kinda a lot of books because I read nine of them in ten days. What can I say? May is always one of my best-read months out of the year.

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 354
Publisher: Multnomah
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Title: Across the Blue
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Isabella Grayson, the eldest daughter of a wealthy, English newspaper magnate, longs to become a journalist, but her parents don’t approve. They want her to marry well and help them gain a higher standing in society. After she writes an anonymous letter to the editor that impresses her father, her parents reluctantly agree she can write a series of articles about aviation and the race to fly across the English Channel, but only if she promises to accept a marriage proposal within the year.

When James Drake, an aspiring aviator, crashes his flying machine at the Grayson’s new estate, Bella is intrigued. James is determined to be the first to fly across the Channel and win the prize Mr. Grayson’s newspaper is offering. He hopes it will help him secure a government contract to build airplanes and redeem a terrible family secret. James wants to win Bella’s heart, but his background and lack of social standing make it unlikely her parents would approve. If he fails to achieve his dream, how will he win the love and respect he is seeking? Will Bella’s faith and support help him find the strength and courage he needs when unexpected events turn their world upside down?

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I don’t think I even read the back cover copy to this book. I’ve just heard about it in the on-line bookish community and it sounded interesting and clean, so I thought I’d give it a go.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

*Slight Spoilers in the Cons Section*

Three Pros: 
-The aviation aspect of the book was truly fascinating. It felt very well researched and I learned a lot without feeling like I was being pounded over the head with information. It’s amazing to think of how recently air-travel was something people only dreamed of. How in the world did we get from trying to fly across the English Channel to landing on the moon in such a short amount of time?
-Even though we didn’t get quite as much detail about the newspaper side in the book, that was still interesting to me. The glimpses we saw in the newspaper office, as well as watching Isabella’s emerging journalistic dreams was pretty cool.
-The pace of the book and writing style were both well-done and kept my interest most of the time.

Three Cons (With Slight Spoilers, so read at your own risk):
-It wasn’t really insta-love, but it was far too close to that for my enjoyment. Isabella has a secret she can’t tell anyone, and she feels guilty and like she’s betraying James not to tell him. She doesn’t owe James anything at this point, so even though feeling slightly bad makes sense, the amount of guilt she felt over it made me feel like she’d formed an emotional attachment to him way too fast.
-That said secret was cajoled out of her by someone else far too easily, and then she didn’t respond the way I hoped she would have.
-James’ family secret, and how it all ended kinda annoyed me, but that’s probably not the case for most people…

CONCLUSION

There were aspects of this book that I actually enjoyed far more than I had thought I would. The relationship was kinda meh in my opinion, but it was clean, so that’s a plus.

After reading this book I’d be open to reading more of Carrie Turansky’s books in the future.

RATING

I’m giving Across the Blue three out of five stars and am thankful for NetGalley giving me an e-copy so I could review it for y’all.

Celebrating Books with a Giveaway

Within These Lines release today! Therefore, we’re going to celebrate by chatting about the book and having a giveaway, because what’s more fun than a bookish giveaway? This post is going to contain my official review for the book, but it’s not going to be a normal review because this author is beyond that. I’m so thankful the author sent me an ARC copy of this book so I could share the joy with y’all!

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First off, let me tell you about the author. Stephanie Morrill started a fantastic blog for teen writers called Go Teen Writers. If you’re interested in writing at all – no matter how old you are – you should check it out. It’s full of honest, encouraging, practical, and ever-so-relevant writing advice. She’s also the author of a number of Young Adult books, ranging over several genres – contemporary, historical fiction, and even nonfiction. I also consider her my unofficial writing mentor, although I’m not sure she knows that since we’ve never met in person or even communicated in any way other than email. Pretty much she’s just an all-around amazing person with fantastic writing.

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And now, about the book. Within These Lines is about Evalina, an Italian-American, and Taichi, the son of Japanese immigrants. Life as they know it is disrupted when America enters WW2 and anti-Japanese feelings sweep across the country. Taichi and his family are forced to move to a Japanese-American internment camp where life is anything but a bed of roses. (Okay, maybe it’s a bed of roses, just the thorns part.)

This book is fantastically well-researched and superbly written as the author tackles the often untalked about subject of what America did with Japanese during the war. I remember the first time I was introduced to the subject of American internment camps I was horrified. This book does an amazing job of making the camps and situation come to life and wraps you up in the story until you feel like you’re right there in the drafty, crowded shacks with Taichi. Although it’s a very sad and unfair part of our country’s history, I think it’s important that we don’t bury and forget it, because history has a tendency to repeat itself.

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This book is real and gritty and sad without being hopeless – the author somehow hit a great balance with making the book exceedingly real while still being interesting and giving the readers the hope that better things are in store.

The characters are well-crafted and even though I didn’t like the way the handled certain things, they stayed very consistent to their character/personality. It was interesting to see how different cultures handled the various issues and troubles they faced. The author did an amazing job at creating a truly American/Japanese character in Taichi, vs. simply slapping a Japanese name onto an American character.

I gave Within These Lines four out of five stars and like it (and Miss Stephanie’s other books) so much that I wanted to share them with y’all. Sadly, I can’t actually host a giveaway with all of her books, but the winner will get to choose their choice of any of Miss Stephanie’s books. (A physical book for an address in the states, an ebook for international.)

A list of Miss Stephanie’s books:

Me, Just Different
Out With the In Crowd  
So Over It 
The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet
The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet 
Go Teen Writers
The Lost Girl of Astor Street 
Within These Lines

Enter the Giveaway Here 

That’s it for today, folks! I hope your Tuesday is going delightfully well!

Two Historical Fiction Novels You Should Buy

One of the fun parts of getting to read books for review is having insider information to share with my online friends. Today is a day pays off particularly well. See, today is the release date for one of the best books I’ve read this year, and also exactly a month until the release date for one of my favorite books from last year.

First, the book that releases today.

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green.

This book takes place in Montreal during the 1750s and the main character is a half-Mohawk, half-French lady who runs a trading post for her not-so-nice father.

Y’all. This book had so much amazing information about the war that I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to read it again sometime super soon just so I can focus on more of the details. I’ll admit to having some air-headed moments where I completely forgot history and couldn’t remember how the war ended (aka, who won), and instead of looking it up, I kept reading with the suspense propelling me on.

There was a plot twist that I found to be completely unexpected. When I first read it I was like “Oh, well, okay….” and was kinda disappointed that it didn’t shock me more. But then I kept reading and was like “But, but, but, how could that have happened?” And I finished the book as fast as I could so I could shove it at my friend and beg (maybe demand?) she read it so we could discuss it.

I knew the outcome of that plot twist would determine my overall feelings of the book. If it worked out one way then the story would squeak by with barely three stars, but if it worked out another way I’d happily give it four solid stars.

Probably needless to say I gave the book four stars and right away set out on a quest to find some friends who don’t read a ton of fiction so I could give them all the spoilers and rant and rave and tell someone what happened. Because yes, the author did a great job of breaking the normal Christian Historical Fiction mold and surprising me as a reader.

So yeah. You should probably order the book right now or request it at your library.

Plus, ya know, the more you look at the cover the more details you see, and that’s pretty amazing. Way to go, Miss Jocelyn, on writing another fantastic book!

Between

Next off, the book that releases in exactly a month.

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Y’all. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre (no, really?), and I especially like it when an author tackles a time period or subject that isn’t really well known, especially in the fiction world. Miss Stephanie takes a well known time period (WW2) and then flips the idea over and presents us with a side of the war that isn’t often talked about.

Japanese Internment Camps in the USA.

It’s a subject a lot of Americans skim over or are completely unaware of, and yet it’s a real part of our history. Miss Stephanie masterfully weaves together a story of a Japanese boy and Italian girl and the prejudices, injustices, and mindset of the people during the 1940s.

When you read the book you’ll feel the dust of the camp. The scorn of onlookers. The helplessness of those left behind. You’ll disappear from 2019 and suddenly find yourself in a very different era as the details surround you and you make new friends, feel new heartache, and see the world through different eyes.

Within

To my surprise, there were several similarities between these two books, including the fact that they both deal with prejudices, trying to understand different cultures, and how to move forward when someone doesn’t do what you expected.

You can pre-order Miss Stephanie’s book here (which means it’ll be automatically sent to you a month from now and that’s pretty amazing). I already pre-ordered her book (back on June 23rd, the first day the cover went live on Amazon), and despite having an ARC copy of it, I’m so excited about the final version arriving in the mail.

And there you have it, folks, some insider information on two amazing books. I’d be delighted to know in the comments if you’ve read either of these two authors or if you plan on buying either of these fantastic books.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill (I walked nearly two miles while writing this)
Listening to: Spotify on shuffel 
Random Fact: We live in a valley so we often have fog 
Question of the Day: Do you like Historical Fiction? 

Flights of Fancy

Today I’m not feeling well so I decided to rest for a bit and read a nice, light-hearted book. And so I started looking through Overdrive for such a book. And do y’all know how hard it is to find a good book!?! It was rather annoying as book after book looked promising but as I read the sample I ran into content that wasn’t appropriate or else swearing. Really, authors?

And then I remembered NetGalley. So I hoped on there, requested this book, and here we are, folks!

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 371
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: (January 1, 2019
Title: Flights of Fancy
Author: Jen Turano
Fiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I pretty much decided Jen Turano’s books weren’t for me a few years back because they’re silly – like to the point where my personality didn’t find them fun anymore because they are so unrealistic. I realize lots of people really like this style of book and that’s great, I just don’t.

And then today came. And I’m fighting off the flu so I didn’t feel well. I had a stack of books just waiting to be read, but instead, I wanted something that would be exceedingly lighthearted and easy to read. I’ve heard various other book bloggers talk about this book recently, so I decided to give it a go. Also, I think the cover’s really pretty. 😉

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

This book was more enjoyable than I expected. I read it all afternoon and although I did skim in parts, it kept my attention and made me wonder what was going to happen next. It’s kinda like a Hallmark movie, just not quite so predictable.

To make this easy, I’m just going to go with a few pros and cons that I came up with while reading the book. And please, keep in mind that this isn’t the style of book that I normally read – so if you’ve read any of Jen Turano books in the past and liked them, then you’ll probably really like this one. It’s my favorite of hers that I’ve read. (I think I’ve read two or three before.)

Pros: I liked the main character. She was realistic most of the time, she didn’t annoy me, and she was amusing. Plus, even though she wasn’t telling the truth about her life, she basically told them that she wasn’t telling the truth. Which that sounds weird, but it worked well in the book and was actually a big selling point for me. Also, the book was well written and easy to follow which isn’t always the case for me when there are dukes and such involved.

Cons: It was exceedingly silly – which is both a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because it was amusing, a bad thing because it was kinda eye-rolly with how often “bad” stuff happened. Like rolling down hills, landing in mud, etc… Also, the main character was always being picked up and carried by the main guy when she had gotten hurt, etc… I mean, really though? I’m fairly certain that wouldn’t have happened and so that type of thing bothers me a lot.

The book starts with the main character being at a ball with a duke, and the duke’s not a cool guy and he’s not being nice with how he treats the main character. He’s just kinda leering at her, so it’s not detailed or anything. Also, later in the book, there were a few things that happened that weren’t “bad” but I wouldn’t consider proper.

CONCLUSION

I’m glad I gave this book a try because it was what I was looking for today (silly, light-hearted, and not needing much brainpower), but not my normal read at all.

RATING

I’m giving Flights of Fancy 3 out of 5 stars.

((I got this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for me reviewing it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Winter Mornings for the Win {plus a book review}

It’s one of those delightfully cozy mornings. I’m wrapped up in a blanket with a hot mug of French Press and lemon biscotti listening to the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman as I watch fine snow drifting down outside.

Today’s list of things to do has grown until there’s no way I’m going to accomplish everything I want to before leaving to pick up my car (where it just got snow tires) and then head to work at the coffee shop. So, instead of stressing about it I decided to just chill and work systematically through my list and see what I can get done.

And, the first thing on the list is to write a book review for one of my most recent reads. The 10 Commandments of Marriage is the third marriage book I’ve read in the last few months and also the one that made me be like “I’ve no clue what I’m reading” the most.

Do y’all ever read books that don’t currently apply to you?

And now, on to the review.

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FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 224
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: October 1, 2014
Title: The 10 Commandments of Marriage: Practical Principles to Make Your Marriage Great
Author: Ed Young
Nonfiction

a

BACK COVER BLURB

Marriage is God’s idea. He planned it. He designed it. And if you follow His blueprint, it will be more rewarding, more loving, more exciting than you ever imagined.

In 10 Commandments of Marriage, Dr. Ed Young shares the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots” of successful relationships—straight from the pages of God’s Word. Long-married couples will find love-building precepts that will revive a failing marriage and make a great relationship even better. Soon-to-be-marrieds will discover what marriage is all about and gain priceless insights into starting on solid ground.

In words that are profound, often humorous, but always biblical, Dr. Young draws from decades of counseling couples to provide 10 commandments for a lifelong marriage that sizzles. God wants your marriage to be nothing short of incredible. And it could begin with this amazing book.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

When I’m reading nonfiction “practical” is a big selling point for me – because if a book isn’t something that can’t be applied to everyday life, then…?
Also, as mentioned previously, I’ve decided to read marriage books because I figure that I currently have more time to do that now than in the future. And, on that note, a disclaimer: I’m not married, nor am I in a relationship, so all my thoughts regarding this book come from a rather unique point of view.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

How The Book Is Set Up: At the beginning of each chapter, there’s a little bubble that says “A Personal Word” and in it, Mr. Ed writes a short paragraph where he summarizes the entire chapter and what he feels like is the most important concept. Throughout the book, there are shaded squares with some of the most important quotes, stats, and statements written in bold so you can flip through the book and quickly read something to make you think. At the end of each chapter, there’s a section called Reflecting on Your Relationship that includes questions for married people, as well as questions for those who are contemplating or preparing for marriage.

One cool part about this book is in the introduction Mr. Ed mentions that this book is for pretty much everyone – not just those who are married, but also for those who are preparing for, contemplating, or have been, married.

Mr. Ed has been married for around 50 years and pastors a large church so he’s had a lot of experience, stories, and examples to share not only from his own marriage but also from the marriages of people who he’s counseled over the years. The advice he shares really is practical – just like the cover promises. He also does a good job of writing in a way that’s easy to relate to and amusing at times.

There were a few things in the book that felt slightly overboard to me, but I’m obviously not a good judge on that. For the most part, I felt like the book was balanced and had a lot of good information that would be very helpful for a married couple.

Some of the “commandments” of marriage that I enjoyed reading the most included: Thou Shalt be Selfless (good for anyone to learn!), Thou Shalt Continually Communicate, and Thou Shalt Avoid the Quicksand of Materialism.

CONCLUSION

I feel like I would have gleaned a lot more from this book if I was actually married (which, duh, makes sense), but overall I’m glad I read it as it had a lot of good information.

RATING

I’m giving The 10 Commandments of Marriage 3 out of 5 stars.

((This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for me reviewing it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))