Title: Waterfall (River of Time #1)
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: David C. Cook
Format: ebook ($.7.39) Paperback ($9.99)
Length: 384 pages
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Genre: young adult historical romance, time travel
Summary: Gabi and Lia Betarrini are used to traveling the world with their archaeologist parents. They’ve spent summers in Italy ever since they can remember, but since their father’s death, their mother has thrown herself even more into her work. Her latest discovery brings them to ancient Etruscan tombs. Even though they know it’s off-limits, the two girls sneak into one of the tombs while their mother is pre-occupied. Inside they find handprints painted on the cold stone wall, but the handprints are warm to their touch, and when both girls touch the prints at the same time they are sent careening back through time into the 14th century, where they find themselves in the middle of a medieval skirmish for territory.
The problem is they land in that time a few days apart, so they have to find each other again. With two warring families fighting over that territory, it becomes a difficult prospect. Add to that an incredibly good-looking medieval lord with a jealous fiancee’, an evil rival lord who would love nothing more than to take over their castle, some well-played strategies, and two vicious she-wolves. They’ll be lucky if they can make it back to their own time in one piece!
Review: It keeps you fully occupied from start to finish. So action-packed! It’s written in first person, so you get an in-depth view of the main character and all the challenges she goes through that help her grow into her role as the savior of Siena. The plot keeps moving, never a moment for Gabi to rest. There were a few places I would have liked more description, a few places there was more telling than showing, but then again, the story was moving at a steady pace and the extra description might have interrupted the rhythm.
Recommendation: It is a great book for any age group if you like adventure. A little romance, but nothing you wouldn’t want your eleven year old to see. Good clean fiction. Loved it! Gotta give it five quills:
This is the first of three novels in the series, plus there are two companion novellas. I’ve purchased all the others and have them waiting on my Kindle! Good stuff!
Title: His Chosen Bride (Gasquet Princes #2)
Author: Sherry Gloag
Publisher: Astraea Press
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Pages: 98 pages
Format: ebook ($1.99)
Summary: Prince Henri is too busy running a country to worry about minor details like marriage. His father has been sick, and he has taken the reins in his more than capable hands. But his family is worried about him, and they all but force him to take a vacation.
Having no choice in the matter, Henri travels to his brother’s quiet country horse ranch. It’s there he sees Monica again.
He had met her before…at his brother’s wedding. And he knew then she would be trouble for him if he let her get too close. Now, thrown together by his well-meaning family, Henri has to fight his growing feelings for the mysterious, beautiful woman.
So much for letting his father choose his bride.
Review: This is a novella, so a pretty quick read. Henri is your typical work-a-holic with a twist. He’s the crown prince in line to inherit the throne. He acts the way you would expect him to when he finds out that he is being relieved of his royal duties and forced into taking a much needed vacation. He’s upset and takes it out on any likely scapegoat, in this case Monica.
Both characters are likable and well-written. The reader wants them to end up together from the beginning. There is good chemistry between the two main characters and the sense of duty on Henri’s side versus the sense Monica has of not fitting in anywhere provides a solid conflict they both believe to be insurmountable. It’ll keep you reading to the end.
There are a lot of flashbacks that can cause confusion if you’re not paying attention. Pair that with a few places near the end where significant time lapses occur, and the storyline can be a bit difficult to follow in certain parts. Not impossible, but challenging.
Recommendation: This is a sweet romance, so suitable for romance readers of all ages. It is the second book in a series, and it mentions characters and plot points from the first book, and I hadn’t read the first book. It is possible to read it out of sequence without feeling like you are missing critical pieces of the story, but I found that it made me want to read the first book to get in on the story of the secondary characters. I have added From Now Until Forever to my TBR list. Can’t wait to find out how Liam and Melanie got together. I give this one three quills:
Title: The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer
Author: Lisa Orchard
Publisher: Astraea Press
Details: released March 12, 2012, 175 pages, $2.99 (ebook)
Summary: Sarah Cole and her sister are visiting their uncle and aunt in a small town for the summer. Sarah meets a skinny girl named Jackie right away, and they get along famously. In the midst of getting to know each other they stumble on the body of the local old lady recluse who has been murdered. The rest of the book unfolds with interesting twists and a second mystery is uncovered by the girls.
Review: These characters were likable, and the villain totally scary. It started a little slowly, but the plot developed nicely and ended up having several loose ends tied up neatly.
Title: Life on the Edge
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Publisher: Astraea Press
Format: ebook ($2.99) Paperback ($12.99)
Length: 435 pages
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Genre: contemporary romance, sports fiction
Summary: Emily Butler is a pairs figure skater with Olympic aspirations. It’s a life that revolves around the rink. Training all day every day to become the best of the best. With so little time to spend socially with anyone outside of the skating world, it is natural that her circle of friends consists of only other skaters. When Emily starts to spend time outside the rink with her coach, a young Russian man who used to be a champion pairs skater in his own right, she finds she has a lot more in common with him than just skating.
The two struggle with their growing feelings for one another. Relationships between coaches and skaters are frowned upon and can cause Emily’s Olympic dreams to grind to a screeching halt. And not just hers. Crossing that line can do more damage than any of them are willing to admit.
Review: I love the level-headed yet innocent Emily, who tries to fight her feelings for Sergei. A losing battle, of course. And Sergei, a man with integrity, though still mysterious, is willing to risk everything for Emily. Two well-developed characters the reader can fall in love with. The life of a skater was shown in living color. All the work that goes into preparing for the Olympics. How one wrong move in a competition can crush those dreams and the emotional roller coaster of the competitors. Jennifer Comeaux is a talented writer with true voice.
Recommendation: Though I’m not necessarily a fan of figure skating, this book was a wonderful love story and well worth the time and money spent. Clean with strong values exhibited. Good for anyone who loves a good clean romance. Loved it! I give it five quills.
Looking forward to the sequel!
Title: The Last Great Wizard of Yden
Author: S. G. Rogers
Publisher: Astraea Press
Format: ebook ($2.99) Paperback ($10.99)
Release Date: October 12, 2011
Genre: Young adult fiction, fantasy, paranormal
Summary: On Jon Hansen’s sixteenth birthday, his father mysteriously disappears, but no one believes Jon’s claim to have seen someone kidnap him. In fact, a media leak makes Jon into a laughingstock at his school, drawing the wrath of the school bully.
When the family heirloom he received on his birthday turns out to have magical powers, Jon soon finds himself the target of a wizard’s greed for absolute power. Jon, along with a handful of friends and one bully, transport to an alternate dimension and undertake to rescue Jon’s father and save Yden from vicious warlords and one evil wizard.
Review: Rogers wove an amazing and intricate world, a world that captures the imagination and leads it on a quest for adventure. The characters, though they come from a variety of backgrounds, meld together so well, one cannot imagine the story without any one of them.
Recommendation: Well-written and intriguing full length novel. I didn’t want to put this book down until it was done. It is a fantastic and fun read for young and old alike, anyone who likes to use their imagination while reading. Loved it! I give it five quills.
Title: Wildflowers from Winter
Author: Katie Ganshert
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Format: Paperback (ARC) $9.99
Length: 314 pages
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Genre: Christian romance, Inspirational
Summary: Bethany Quinn finally has the life she always wanted. A relationship with a successful lawyer which seemed to be moving forward. A good job with a prestigious architectural firm in Chicago, nice car, expensive clothes, fabulous apartment. A far cry from the broken down trailer and second-hand clothes she knew as a girl. Far away from the small town life she hated. Far away from the memories of her childhood tragedy. Everything is perfect. Just the way she always wanted it to be.
Then everything starts to fall apart, and the small town she was certain she had left behind for good starts to reel her back in, kicking and screaming.
Evan Price knows Bethany’s grandfather better than she does, so when she shows up to care for him after the heart attack, he is understandably resistant to the intrusion. After all, she hadn’t been to visit the man in the entire five years Evan had lived and worked with him. Now she waltzes in with her designer clothes and fancy car, thinking she can make up for years of silence. He is certain she has no concern for anyone but herself. Anyone who can leave her family and best friends without so much as a word has to be a horrible person. So why does he find himself mysteriously drawn to her?
Review: I love the way the author wove this story from start to finish, including powerful and inspirational themes that carry a message of freedom and renewal. Even though it seemed like tragedy was following tragedy for each of the three main characters, the way every one of those tragedies came together to draw each of the characters to where God wanted them to be demonstrated how God can work everything out for his perfect purpose. What was awesome was that it didn’t seem overly preachy, but more as a natural proof of how He draws us to himself, even in the midst of pain we think will never end. Like the way abundant wildflowers follow the harshest winter. Love that.
The characters were true-to-life in the way they reacted and handled themselves when faced with all their personal trials, which made the development of the relationships among them progress in a way that made perfect sense. Bethany’s buried anger and bitterness over her father’s death and the way her mother handled it, Evan’s loss of his brother and the impending loss of his dream life as a farmer, and the sudden death of Robin Price’s husband, leaving her to deal with life and a new pregnancy all alone.
Recommendation: This is a clean and inspirational story that deals with death, grief, faith, renewal, and love. It’s a well developed plot with real conflicts that deal with the human condition. If you’re in the mood for a light read, this wouldn’t be a good choice for you. But if you are looking for something meaningful and moving, Wildflowers from Winter is definitely worthy of a good look. In fact, it’s worthy of five quills in my book.
I was given a free advanced reading copy of this book for my honest review by Blogging for Books.
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Publisher: Astraea Press
Format: E-book ($3.99)
Pages: 223 pages
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Genre: Regency Romance, Fairy Tale
Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press
Summary: Rosalind Hartwell’s family has fallen under a curse, and it is all her fault… Well, it’s half her fault.
The other portion of culpability falls on Stefan Hudson, the recently returned prodigal, the Marquess of Whitmore and soon to be Duke of Montmouth. It was their responsibility to marry and join the two families in order to avoid bringing the full fury of the family curse crashing down around them.
When Stefan and Rosalind call off their engagement, members of both families start dropping like flies, starting with the fathers of both houses. It seems as though Stefan and Rosalind have no choice but to follow through with marriage after all. But Rosalind insists on being wooed, and Stefan had been stranded on a deserted island for so long, he has all but forgotten most of the social graces.
In their quest to reverse the family curse, they find out there is much more to all the strange sickness and death than meets the superstitious eye. But will they figure out the secret in time to save the rest of their families?
Review: A much-loved favorite fairy tale re-mixed in a new and intriguing story. Rachel Van Dyken was able to weave a brand new story out of the old, which is not easy to do. Between the heroine’s narcolepsy and the over-protective, cane-wielding godmother there is a wonderful mix of the original fairy tale with Van Dyken’s own inventions.
The hero, who suddenly re-appears after having been presumed dead, is an interesting mix of knight in shining armor and unbearable shipwrecked savage returning to polite society.
The heroine, who is convinced she is dying, is a strong female lead holding out for love even in the midst of the threat of a curse befalling her family. She is a worthy opponent of the stubborn, arrogant Stefan, and often gives him a taste of his own medicine in more ways than one.
Recommendation: This is an enjoyable read, a bit steamy in some places, but clean overall. It was written for an adult audience, and I probably wouldn’t recommend it for readers under fifteen. It has mystery, betrayal, romance and suspense all rolled in, so there is a little something for everyone. It is an excellent start for the new series, and I am looking forward to the next installment about Beauty and the Beast. I give Upon a Midnight Dream four quills.
For those of you who haven’t yet read the House of Renwick trilogy, the characters in this book do make an appearance in The Redemption of Lord Rawlings. It’s definitely worth picking up. You can check out the review here.
Title: The Fairy Godmother Files: Cinderella Complex
Author: Rebekah L. Purdy
Publisher: Astraea Press
Format: E-book ($2.99)
Pages: 235 pages
Release Date: March 19, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Fairy Tale
Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press
Summary: Maggie is hoping her junior year will be the best year yet, but her hopes are dashed on the very first day when the school mean girl targets her as the victim of displaced anger.
Add to that the family secret she discovers at her grandmother’s retirement party, leaving Maggie with no choice but to take over for her grandmother as the newest…fairy godmother–wings, wand, and all–and her prime directive is to make sure all her assignments get their “happy ever after”.
Easier said than done.
Her first mission turns out to be none other than her nemesis, mean girl Katrina Melville. But naturally, the indignation doesn’t stop there. Kat’s HEA includes the one guy Maggie has been crushing on since puberty hit, school hottie Connor Prince.
To top it all off, her new responsibilities require to disappear at a moment’s notice (literally) to answer every beck and call of the assigned prima donna. And Maggie’s friends don’t take very kindly to being ditched in the middle of bonding time. So much for junior year being the best yet.
Review: This was exceptionally well written. The story was engaging from the very beginning and it had everything you could want: romance, action, suspense, love triangles, evil stepmother, monsters… And of course, it sets up for a continuing story at the end. I did think it was a little strange that while her “knight”/body guard received ongoing training for his job, Maggie herself received none. Of course, that just added to the humor when her spells kept going wrong, and to the suspense when she ran into the evil Grimms–so not necessarily a bad thing.
The dialogue between the characters is so well-timed and well-written it gives a great sense of the characters and the age group. The sibling rivalry and the anger towards the father (I hated that guy) for the way he was treating Maggie and her brother were both funny and realistic. Loved the character interaction.
Recommendation: I laughed out loud throughout this whole book. So many funny lines and lots of physical comedy. Great for young adult and adult readers alike. It’s a clean read, but there are some older themes, so I wouldn’t recommend for younger than high school age. I give The Fairy Godmother Files: Cinderella Complex four quills.
Can’t wait for the rest of The Fairy Godmother Files!
Title: Saphyre Snow
Author: Marcia Lynn McClure
Publisher: Distractions Ink
Pages: 276 pages
Release Date: October 25, 2010
Genre: Romance – Fairy Tale
Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Summary: Saphyre Snow is fleeing for her life from her step-grandmother–a woman whose beauty is rivaled only by her acute narcissism. Saphyre soon finds herself in the company of seven men on the outskirts of society, each for his own reasons. They vow to protect Saphyre from any harm that may befall her.
In return Saphyre wants to show her gratitude and concern for each of them in a way that meets the particular need of each. Over the course of several weeks, she gets to know each of the men very well, and each holds a special place in her heart. But none more so than the handsome rogue, Rogan. Will he have courage enough to risk the Executioner’s Kiss for her sake?
Review: A wonderful new spin on the old favorite fairy tale of Snow White with just enough elements of real possibilities to make it seem a likely version. Unlike the old Disney version of the same tale, this one has a fully-developed hero as well as the sweet, humble and beautiful princess. In fact each of the seven “men of the keep” has a dynamic personality of his own. The relationships among all the members of the close knit group were believable and emotional connections. Which made the climax and resolution of the book all the more exciting and well contrived. The ending was quaint as a fairy tale should be, but the turning point of the story is so intense, the ending of the story has to be that way in order to leave the flavor of “happily ever after” with the reader.
Recommendation: This is the second book by this author I have read. Both of them are fairy tale re-tellings with a realistic and engaging spin. Don’t let the descriptions of the seven men at the beginning deter you from the story. Once I got past that part, I had a difficult time putting the book down until I got to “The End”. Saphyre Snow is a fully absorbing story about love and true chivalry (both romantic and platonic versions). I loved it, so I have to offer it my highest rating:
I noticed there is a prequel entitled Crimson Frost available as well, so I couldn’t resist adding that to my TBR pile as well.
Title: Desperate Measures (a Regency short story)
Author: Candice Hern
Release Date: May 29, 2011
Genre: Romance – Regency/Historical
Available at: Amazon (free)
Summary: Lydia Bettridge is in love with a man who seems not to notice her existence. But she has a plan and has enlisted her brother’s friend to assist her in carrying it out. Things fall apart however, when her co-conspirator stands her up and sends in his place the very man she was plotting to catch, Geoffrey Danforth. He knows the plan. He doesn’t know he is the intended victim. Together Lydia and Geoffrey spend an evening pretending to be love-stricken in order to make her “intended” victim notice her enough to become jealous.
Review: Short, sweet and straight to the point. This was a delightful read which can be read in one sitting. Of course, you want more. That’s the point. Get a taste of what the author can do and then go buy her novel-length books, because her writing is like a Pringle’s potato chip. You can’t just have one.
Recommendation: Well worth the time and the price (Um, it’s free. Can’t really go wrong.). You will want to pick up a few of her other titles after you’re done. I enjoyed this and will read it again. I give it four quills: