Tag Archives: fiction

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

fromthismomentcamdenDespite the fact that it took me FOREVER to finish this book, I really, really loved it. (I can be a super lazy reader, which is basically because it’s a lot easier to binge watch Royal Pains on Netflix than it is to hold a book . . . ). It was my third Elizabeth Camden novel (you can read my review of one of the others here), and it’s my favorite one.

Camden has a special talent for creating living, breathing characters that are just so human. I felt so conflicted while I read because the main characters both had significant character flaws that just rubbed me the wrong way, but I loved them anyway. It made for a complex emotional experience that left me cheering at the end of the book. (How cheesy does that sound? It’s pretty much how it went down, though. Sorry.)

Camden also knows how to weave a plot that keeps you guessing and makes you forget you’re reading Christian historical fiction (at least most of the time).

Looking for a good read? Start here. Excuse me while I go track down all of the other Elizabeth Camden books I didn’t realize existed . . .

5 stars—I loved it and will recommend it to everyone.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

Buy it here. 

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

All Summer Long by Melody Carlson

all summer longThe weather is gorgeous, the calendar is full, and time to relax is much appreciated. For me, this summer means surviving lots of extrovert activities—grad parties, family get-togethers, camping trips with friends—and that means my
“introvert days” are extra important. If I don’t have a chance to be quiet, to recharge by myself, to feed my mind without the noise, I get super grouchy. Just ask my husband. I am not a pleasant person to be around.

I’m battling the grouchiness with some extra reading time. I decided to give up Netflix unless I’m at the gym or with my husband in favor of more time to read my Bible, journal, and get sucked into some good books.

I’ve read some fun ones so far, but All Summer Long by Melody Carlson has been my favorite. It’s a chick-flick in book form. The main character is as lovable and ambitious and hopeful as your favorite rom-com heroine, and her love interest is every bit as dreamy as Tom Hanks. (Okay, maybe not quite Tom-Hanks level, but you get the picture.)

I’m a long-time fan of Melody Carlson. When I was a teenager, I discovered her Diary of a Teenage Girl series, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it probably changed my life. Carlson’s characters became my role models, my example of what a Christian teenager and healthy relationships should (and should not) look like.

I loved this love story. And if you like happy, fluffy romance with a leading lady who follows her dreams thrown in, you’ll love it too.

5 stars—I loved it and will recommend it to everyone.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

heroneandonlyThis was my third or fourth Becky Wade book, and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others.

From my time as a fiction intern, I know that generally, publishers put less time and effort into a successful author’s subsequent efforts. The name alone is enough to sell the book, so the quality of the writing isn’t as important. (At least not on the business side of things. I’m willing to bet the editors feel differently about the books they work on.) I think that’s what happened with this one.

Wade writes great Christian fluffy romance that I love to read, but this one just wasn’t at the same level as previous books. It felt like it could have used another draft.

The characters weren’t as deep and developed. And because Her One and Only is the fourth book in a series, Wade threw in a minor storyline about a few characters we learned about in a previous book, but it wasn’t fleshed out enough to fit with the rest of the plot.

All that said, if you’ve read the other books about the Porter family, you’ll still want to read this one to round out their story.

3 stars—It was okay and I might recommend it to those who might be interested.
(Read more about my rating system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

thepaintersdaughter

FIVE STARS

Nothing like kicking off 2016 with a fantastic read! I stayed up a little too late last night because I had already been reading for . . .  um . . . five hours, and I just had to finish it. I didn’t bother to look at the clock when I finished because I didn’t want to know, but I’m pretty sure it was at least two hours past my bedtime.

I always have a hard time writing reviews for the really good books, and this is one of those. There’s nothing to pick at, no suggestions to make. Just lots of exclamations about the great plot twists, complex characters, and compulsion to keep turning the pages. So pretty much you should stop reading this reveiw and just go find a copy of the book instead.

If that’s not enough to convince you to pick up a copy of The Painter’s Daughter, what about . . . ?

  • This is Klassen’s ninth book, and they’re ALL amazing (well, there is one I haven’t read yet, but I just got it for Christmas and I can’t wait to dig in).
  • The characters aren’t squeaky clean—they’re real and relatable.
  • BUT don’t worry, Jesus is in there, too.
  • Yes, it’s historical romance, but there’s a good bit of mystery mixed in.
  • Not into romance? What if I told you one of the main characters is a military captain and there’s a good war scene?

I have nothing bad to say about The Painter’s Daughter. Just read it so you can love it as much as I did.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

My Favorite Reads in 2015

Want to kick off the new year with a good book? Here are my favorite reads from 2015:

  1. Brentwood’s Ward by Michelle Griep
    Nicholas Brentwood’s sister’s health is failing and he’s desperate for funds to move her out of the city. His opportunity arrives when he’s asked to serve as guardian for Emily Payne, a fiery, independent woman who doesn’t like to follow instructions.
  2. Vendetta by Lisa Harris
    When a teenage girl goes missing, the case becomes personal for detective Nikki Boyd, whose own sister disappeared ten years ago. Nikki jumps into action, asking all the right questions and following all the leads, and just when she thinks she’s solved the case, everything goes wrong.
  3. Worry Less So You Can Live More by Jane Rubietta
    A book that needs to be read by any woman who worries about anything, whether it’s panic-attack-inducing worry or the kind that hides in your check book and jumps out when it’s time to pay the bills.
  4. Taming the To-Do List by Glynnis Whitwer
    This book goes beyond quick tips for checking more items off your list. It’s actually a book about procrastination—what it is, why we do it, and how to stop.

Every Girl Gets Confused by Janice Thompson

every girl gets confusedBased on the cover of Every Girl Gets Confused, I was expecting a fluffy, feel-good Christian romance with a predictable plot and a happy ending. One that I was maybe a little embarrassed to be seen reading because, well, do you see the cover?

When I read books, I want the main character to feel like my best friend. That did not happen. The main character, Katie, was flat. I didn’t get to know her—why she worked at the bridal shop, her passions, what she wanted out of life. I felt like I was getting the life story—Facebook style—of someone I kinda-sorta knew five years ago rather than getting the inside scoop from someone who trusted me enough to let me inside her head.

It was a pretty fluffy book with a happy ending, but there was too much fluff. I didn’t get interested in the story until I had already read three-quarters of it because there wasn’t a plot. I followed Katie, the main character, through a few low- or no-stakes work and relationship “conflicts,” but they weren’t really enough to keep me turning the pages. In the end, it was the storyline of a few secondary characters that drew me in.

There were a few other little things about the book that I struggled with . . .

Nearly ever character had an outside-the-box name: Queenie, Hibiscus, Twiggy, Dahlia, Eduardo . . . I know names in the south (it takes place in Texas) are a little different than here in the midwest, but it was over the top.

Each chapter was named after a Doris Day song and featured a quote by or about her. Every time I started a new chapter, I wondered what she had to do with anything. It wasn’t until at least 150 pages into the book that I found out why Doris Day was significant at all. And it was pretty minor.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I wanted a light, fluffy, happy book. And while I feel like Every Girl Gets Confused got there eventually, it wasn’t worth wading through the first three-quarters.

2 stars—It was okay and I probably won’t recommend it.
(Read more about my rating system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.


Do you want the inside scoop? I had a really hard time writing and posting this review.

I recently found out that when I write a review, the publisher adds it to all the other reviews and ships it off to the author. Uggh. If I give a book a less-than-positive review, I do it to help readers make the most of their reading time, not to hurt the writer of the book.

I’m intentional about giving books I love a lot of recognition on my blog and social media, but when I don’t like a book, I gloss over it a bit. I post the review on my blog and Amazon (because I have to) and rate it on Goodreads, but maybe I won’t post the link on social media. And if I do, I certainly won’t tag the author. Writers tend to be the sensitive type, and I’d rather not kill their confidence by letting them know I didn’t like their book. Because even if I didn’t, writing is hard work! I’m still pulling for them.

When I read through the Acknowledgements, I learned that Thompson lost a grandchild while she was writing this book. No wonder it wasn’t as good as it could have been! How can I blame her?

To complicate things further, I discovered one of my college professors is Thompson’s literary agent. Since I keep up with him casually on Facebook, that makes it even harder to share my honest opinion.

Maybe I just care too much about what people think of me? I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, and sometimes being honest means I have to do that. Just doesn’t seem right, does it?

I’ve never read a book by Janice Thompson before. A quick Google search shows me that she’s written A TON of books. I don’t want to judge her based on just this one. So I think I’ll give her another shot and try one of her other books. I’m pretty sure I have one buried in the 2,000+ titles on my Kindle . . .

 

Vendetta by Lisa Harris

vendettaHave you ever watched Castle? It’s a show about a mystery-writer-turned-detective, and I am addicted. (Jonathan and I have been “collecting” the DVDs, and season 7 just showed up on Sunday.) We have a hard time finding shows and movies to agree on sometimes. He, of course, likes manly movies full of action and suspense and I like all the girly chick flicks. So we usually land on comedy, but Castle has a little bit of everything, and I LOVE it. So when I got the list of book review options from Revell, I was drawn to Vendetta. It sounded just like an episode of Castle. Not what I typically read, but why not give it a try?

I’m so glad I did.

When a teenage girl goes missing, the case becomes personal for detective Nikki Boyd, whose own sister disappeared ten years ago. Nikki jumps into action, asking all the right questions and following all the leads, and just when she thinks she’s solved the case, everything goes wrong.

Vendetta is Lisa Harris’ fourth book and the first in the Nikki Boyd Files. It’s the first book by her that I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. I actually read this book in one sitting, something I rarely do. It’s a suspenseful page-turner that would be a great read for anyone who likes a little romance thrown in with their mystery. (And if you love Castle, definitely pick it up.)

FIVE STARS
(Learn about my star system here.)

Buy it on Amazon.

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.