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!

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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: The Last Great Wizard of Yden by S.G. Rogers

The Last Great Wizard of Yden

Title: The Last Great Wizard of Yden

Author: S. G. Rogers

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: ebook ($2.99) Paperback ($10.99)

Length:  296pages

Release Date: October 12, 2011

Genre: Young adult fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Available at: AmazonBarnes & Noble, Astraea Press

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.

Five Quills

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: 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: 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: Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

Title: Eye of the Sword (Book 2 of the Angelaeon Circle Series)

Author: Karyn Henley

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Format: ebook or paperback ($9.99 available for pre-order)

Pages: 256 pages

Release Date: March 13, 2012

Genre: Romance – Contemporary

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, WaterBrook Press

Summary: The land blight is spreading and the Camrithian comains, the kingdom’s protectors, have disappeared. If the three kyparis harps are not united by the time the stars align, they will have to wait another two hundred years to restore the Wisdom Tree. By then the blight will have destroyed the earth.

The king of Camrithia charges his newly appointed comain, Trevin, to make a journey to the north to consult the Oracle, find the missing comains, and return the two missing harps to the princess. But he’s working against the clock. If he is not back within the month, the princess will marry the evil prince Varic of the Dregmoors.

Varic would like nothing more to kill Trevin and end his quest before it starts. And Trevin has his own demons of guilt haunting him as well. With so much riding on his completion of the quest, Trevin has to discover who he truly is, and fast. What better place to find the answers than the Eye of the Sword.

Review: The plot is seamless and engages the reader from the very beginning with an immediate life or death scene. I felt like the world the author created was well-developed, though since it is the second book in a series, and I didn’t read the first book, I think it took me a little longer to figure out all the nuances of the setting.

The writing style has a very Anne McCaffrey flavor, with angels and winged horses woven into the story line. The hero proves himself on a quest, finding out who he is in the process. The story wraps up nicely at the end, and although there is more to come in a third book for a complete resolution, I was satisfied with the ending. Well done, Karyn Henley!

Recommendation: I loved this book. It’s been awhile since I’ve read something with a medieval-like setting, with quests and oracles and sword-fights. I do recommend reading Breath of Angel, the first book in the Angelaeon Circle series, and then read through all the books in order. However, I read this book first and was not lost at all. But I would have liked to have a more in-depth understanding of the history of the characters. Honestly, I enjoyed this book so much, I intend to go back and read the first one and any others that follow in the series. I award Eye of the Sword my highest rating:

Five Quills

I received this book for free fromWaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. More information about this author and book can be found at the following sites:

Karyn Henley’s author page        More Info about the Book       Sneak Peek at Chapter One        Author Bio

Review: The Picture by Stephanie Taylor

The Picture by Stephanie Taylor

Title: The Picture

Author: Stephanie Taylor

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book ($1.99) and paperback ($11.99)

Pages: 205 pages

Release Date: May 23, 2011

Genre: Romance – Contemporary

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Sophie is a hospice nurse who usually doesn’t get involved with her patients past a certain point. Don’t get me wrong, she is very good at what she does and she has pure motives — she genuinely wants to help them to deal with every aspect of what they’re going through. But when she meets Emily, she breaks her own rules. Emily’s always up-beat, always smiling outlook on life draws Sophie like an irresistible force. So, it is understandable that when Emily’s time comes, Sophie reels emotionally and has to go through the grieving process of losing a close friend.

But she also made a promise to Emily. A promise to deliver a picture to Nicholas, a disenchanted rock star struggling to make sense of Emily’s death and deal with his own grief over the loss. She does deliver the picture, but not before she finds more than she bargained for in Nicholas’s company. Nicholas is understandably upset about the photograph, and Sophie leaves, certain she’ll never see him again. But she was wrong, and a snowstorm finds them snowed in at her apartment for several days.

Just when she starts to think love is possible, his track record with women and her hidden past threaten to destroy what might have been.

Review: Warning: You’re gonna cry. I teared up in three different parts and I can usually control my emotions like an ice queen. 😉 This story was amazing. I loved the characters and could feel Sophie’s roller coaster of emotions throughout. Her love and grief, her confusion and her anger. She is the epitome of a woman trying to hide all her pain from the world around her, but finds it all spills over at the most inopportune moments.

Nicholas was a gentleman and not arrogant or possessing of a sense of entitlement. Nothing like what you’d expect a rock star to be. Which I loved, because I’m not particularly fond of vanity in a hero.

I don’t want to ruin the story for you, so I won’t reveal too much, but there were several surprises in the plot that I was definitely NOT expecting, making it all the more enjoyable for me.

At this point in the review I usually say, “With that said,…” and tell you about something that could have been improved. But, honestly, although it wasn’t perfect, I have NO complaints. I loved every bit of the story. The author thoroughly developed the plot from beginning to end. I’m amazed.

Recommendation: I read the whole thing in one sitting. I could NOT put it down. And I don’t say this lightly. I’m not a particularly fast reader, but this was worth my time and made me want to check out all of Stephanie Taylor’s other titles. If I thought I could get away with it, I’d call in sick the rest of the week and just read her books. There is really no other choice but to give The Picture my highest rating:

Five Quills

I have read three books from this author so far, and I can tell you I have yet to be disappointed. If you’re looking for a satisfying and inspiring read you can’t go wrong with The Picture. And I also recommend Lucky for Her and My One True Love by Stephanie Taylor.

Review: Seduction of Sebastian St. James by Rachel Van Dyken


The Seduction of Sebastian St. James

New release from Rachel Van Dyken

Title: The Seduction of Sebastian St. James

Author: Rachel Van Dyken

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book

Pages: 213

Release Date: December 23, 2011

Genre: Romance – Regency/Historical

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Sebastian St. James is the Duke of Tempest who earned the nickname “Angel Duke” because of his   heroic exploits and his impeccable reputation. When he decides it’s finally time to find a wife, his search leads him to enlist the help of an old friend. It just so happens that old friend is also the cousin Lady Emma Gates, an eligible young woman who is also searching for a spouse.

The duke is very protective of his reputation and his family’s name. Emma is hiding a volatile secret. They team up to help each other find a suitable spouse. But what they thought was a great scheme for finding the perfect spouses turns into a disaster when they find themselves unable to shake the feelings they develop for one another. When their respective pasts come back to haunt them, things get complicated.

Review: This was a fantastic read. It had everything in it I would want. Steamy romance (but clean), suspense, laugh out loud sequences, action. The characters were well developed and consistent. Gotta love the hot, fun-loving male lead – and if I may say so, even Nicholas Renwick was slightly more likable in this book. Emma was just the right mixture of strong-willed and vulnerable. Her strength in her circumstances is inspiring.

The story moves fast and throws just enough twists in to keep it going at a good pace. The plot is well-constructed all the way to the end.

Recommendation: Not gonna lie, there were parts I read several times just because they were so good. Out of all of Rachel Van Dyken’s books so far, this is easily the best. I’m looking forward to Books 3 and 4 in this series! I’m gonna have to give it my highest rating:

Five Quills

You don’t want to miss out on The Seduction of Sebastian St. James by Rachel Van Dyken. And if you haven’t yet read The Ugly Duckling Debutante, you’ll want to pick that up too.