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.

Like Free?

Astraea Press, a publishing company that put out several of the books we have reviewed here, has announced the first book they are offering in their monthly book club.

The Book of the Month in June is The Last Wizard of Yden by SG Rogers. The cool thing? All you have to do is ask for it. You can join the club here. All the books offered are ebooks for quick and convenient distribution. At the end of the month you can discuss the book with the other club members, and if you feel led, they do encourage you to write a review (Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, your blog, wherever you want).

I don’t know, but free sounds like a pretty good deal to us.

SG Rogers also wrote Minna and the Valentine, which was an excellent Valentine’s Day novella. Check out the review! Here’s more about the book and how to get your copy (provided by Astraea Press Book Club).

Astraea Press Book Club June Book

 

This is already on my Kindle to read. Can’t wait to get into it!

Review: The Fairy Godmother Files: Cinderella Complex by Rebekah Purdy

The Fairy Godmother Files by Rebekah L. PurdyTitle: 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.

four quills

Can’t wait for the rest of The Fairy Godmother Files!

Fairy Tales

Many fairy tale princesses share a common humility. They are often mistreated in some way, but rise above the challenges of their abuse or curse. It is really this trait that makes them so admirable—not that they are damsels in distress who need rescuing by the knight in shining armor or the handsome prince who happens to be riding by on a white horse. It is their humility and perseverance that makes them worthy of the hero’s chivalry.

Not the least of these fairy tale princesses is Snow White. She has not a whit of vanity, though she is the fairest in all the land. She never holds a grudge, though her step-mother sends her out in the woods with a man who means to murder her. She doesn’t complain when she is forced into hiding with a group of seven slovenly bachelors, but cooks and cleans and sews for them as if she has done manual labor all her life.

In most fairy tales, you rarely get a clear picture of the hero. He’s a sidenote—necessary to the happy ending, but not a dynamic character. Yet, for some reason, he gets the glory of being the hero. The savior of the damsel. But is the princess who is the real hero. Her courage in the face of adversity, her indomitable spirit in the midst of trial, and her determination in the face of abuse—these are the things that make the fairy tale princess someone to aspire to imitate. It is the inner beauty that truly makes her heroic.

Saphyre Snow by Marcia Lynn McClure is a novel length re-telling of the tale of Snow White. In honor of the Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop and fairy tale princesses everywhere, this will be the featured book for this leg of your journey.

Saphyre Snow

From the Back Cover:

Descended of a legendary line of strength and beauty, Saphyre Snow had once known happiness as princess of the Kingdom of Graces. Once a valiant king had ruled in wisdom—once a loving mother had spoken soft words of truth to her daughter. Yet, a strange madness had poisoned great minds—a strange fever inviting Lord Death to linger. Soon it was even Lord Death sought to claim Saphyre Snow for his own—and all Saphyre loved seemed lost.

Thus, Saphyre fled—forced to leave all familiars for necessity of preserving her life. Alone, and without provision, Saphyre knew Lord Death might yet claim her—for how could a princess hope to best the Reaper himself?

Still, fate often provides rescue by extraordinary venues, and Saphyre was not delivered into the hands of Death—but into the hands of those hiding dark secrets in the depths of bruised and bloody souls. Saphyre knew a measure of hope and asylum in the company of these battered vagabonds. Even she knew love—a secreted love—a forbidden love. Yet it was love itself—even held secret—that would again summon Lord Death to hunt the princess, Saphyre Snow.

To be entered in the drawing for an electronic copy of Saphyre Snow by Marcia Lynn McClure, leave a comment for me about which fairy tale princess you admire most and why (Be sure to leave contact information, so I can alert the winner.).
Back to the linky list.

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

Review: Desperate Measures by Candice Hern

It Happened One Night

Title: Desperate Measures (a Regency short story)

Author: Candice Hern

Publisher: self

Format: E-book

Pages: 32

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:

four quills

Review: The Redemption of Lord Rawlings by Rachel Van Dyken

The Redemption of Lord Rawlings

Title: The Redemption of Lord Rawlings

Author: Rachel Van Dyken

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book

Pages: 204 pages

Release Date: March 2012

Genre: Romance – Regency/Historical

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Lord Rawlings is in trouble. His inheritance comes with strings. He must get married before his next birthday or he loses everything. After having given up his chance with his former betrothed for a life of wild oats, he now finds himself with no money, no prospects and no hope.

And that’s where his only hope finds him. Down and out and sitting in the rain all alone in the park.

The problem? He still thinks of the young lady as the little girl in pigtails he used to know. And it’s up to her to change his perception of the situation. And all this amidst the public scrutiny of the revered Mrs. Peabody who seems to have it out for him.

Review: I was offered the opportunity to read this book before its release in order to give an honest review. This is the third book in the House of Renwick series. In both the first and second books Rawlings was an antagonist, and a bit of a slimeball at that. I was anxious to see how the author would develop her third protagonist into a character worthy of redemption, let alone deserving of his happily ever after.

Van Dyken did not disappoint. From the very beginning, the character development was well done. All Rawlings’ former rogue-ish qualities were shown to be steps on the way to that redemption. The heroine in this book was younger than the first two, and she often behaved like a spoiled child, but her growth also led her to maturity worthy of being Rawlings’ match.

The attraction between the two characters is undeniable, and the tension is built throughout the story through passionate interactions, though clean and sweet. I love this author’s ability to build the intensity of the relationship without crossing the line. Add to this, her usual knack for comedic wordplay, and you have a winning combination.

Recommendation: With every new release, Rachel Van Dyken’s books keep getting better and better. I was completely absorbed in Lord Rawlings’ story from start to finish, in spite of hating his guts after the first book and being on the fence about him after book two.  This is an enjoyable story, one of the best romances I’ve read in a while. I give it my highest rating:

Five Quills

The third book in The House of Renwick series is a don’t miss in the trilogy. And if you haven’t read The Ugly Duckling Debutante and The Seduction of Sebastian St. James, you should add them to your must read list.

Review: The Missing: Book 1 – Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Found

Title: The Missing: Book 1 * Found

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster

Format: paperback ($6.99)

Length: 314 pages

Release Date: April 21, 2009 (reprint edition)

Genre: Middle Grades – science fiction

Available at: Book stores everywhere

Summary: Who are Jonah and Chip anyway? Even they don’t know. When cryptic messages start showing up in their mailboxes, they suspect they may be in danger. The two boys, along with Jonah’s adoptive sister, Katherine have a mystery to solve: the letters, the trip to the FBI office, strange people appearing and disappearing at will…what is going on?

Review: Talk about leaving you in a position where you HAVE to read the next book in the series. You are thrown right into the mystery at the very beginning and the suspense builds seamlessly to the end. But it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning.

Recommendation: Great read for those interested in science fiction and time travel. Geared towards young adult, but intriguing for any age. Four quills:

four quills

Guess I’m gonna have to pick up Book Two!

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