Review: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

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

Available at: AmazonBarnes & NobleDavid C. Cook

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:

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!

Review: His Chosen Bride by Sherry Gloag

His Chosen Bride by Sherry Gloag

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: Three Quills

Review: Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux

Life On the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux

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

Available at: AmazonBarnes & Noble, Astraea Press

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.

Five Quills

Looking forward to the sequel!

Review: Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

Wildflowers from Winter

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

Available at: Amazon, Christianbooks, WaterBrook, Barnes & Noble

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.

Five Quills

I was given a free advanced reading copy of this book for my honest review by Blogging for Books.

For more information about the author, the book, or to read an excerpt check out the links below:
Author’s Bio                   More Info @ Book               Read an excerpt                 Author’s Site 

Review: Upon a Midnight Dream by Rachel Van Dyken

Upon a Midnight DreamTitle: Upon a Midnight Dream

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.

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.

Review: Saphyre Snow by Marcia Lynn McClure

Saphyre Snow

Title: Saphyre Snow

Author: Marcia Lynn McClure

Publisher: Distractions Ink

Format: E-book

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:

Five Quills

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.

Review: The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall

Title: The Scent of Cherry Blossoms

Author: Cindy Woodsmall

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Format: hardcover

Pages: 191

Release Date: February 21, 2012

Genre: Christian Amish Romance

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, WaterBrook Multnomah, CBD

Summary: Annie Martin is an Old Order Mennonite. After some irreconcilable difference between her and her mother arise, she is sent to live with her grandfather, Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge.

There she meets back up with a childhood friend whose family needs an extra pair of hands in their restaurant. Annie volunteers to help out. But the family is Old Order Amish, and while the two sects tolerate each other, they do not allow interaction between men and women of the two groups.

Unfortunately, Annie has been fighting her feelings for Aden Zook since she was a teenager. And spending so much time with him only fans the flame. When her Daadi discovers them walking together in the cherry orchard, he threatens to destroy the Zook’s family business unless they end their secret courtship.

Review: There is lots of vivid description of the scenery, particularly the cherry orchard. And the grandfather’s love story was very endearing, especially since he seems to be a bit of a stern and crusty old man, very set in his ways and not wanting to listen to anyone else’s opinions. Seeing his soft side made him likable.

The character development was pretty good. I like the main characters of Aden and Annie, but I didn’t like any of the others much. The family’s on both sides frustrated me with their hypocrisy (even though, they eventually came around). I realize that was the point and the conflict wouldn’t have been believable or fully developed without family members as antagonists.

While I enjoyed the story, I found the ending to be too quick and a bit unsatisfying. And by that, I mean I read the last sentence and turned the page fully expecting the story to continue. But it didn’t.

Recommendation: This is the first time I’ve read Amish romance. It was interesting to read about the differences between the Mennonites and the Amish. The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is an enjoyable, quick and straightforward story. I read it in just a few hours. I give the book three quills:

Three Quills

I was given this book as a free review copy through Blogging for Books. For more information about the author and the book, please visit the links below.

 Author’s Site                  More info                   Chapter One                       Author Bio