Book Review: ‘Worth the Time’ by Laura Jackson

From the back cover:

Routinely ignored by her single mother, high school senior Lindsey Hamilton hides her loneliness behind a mask of flirtatious self-confidence that has many boys wrapped around her finger. However, during community service required for graduation, she meets a shy guy with a haunted past who barely gives her the time of day. Why doesn’t he like her? Then the father she thought had abandoned her before birth wants to meet, and she discovers everything she believed about him is a lie. How will Lindsey learn to trust so she can realize that she has been loved all along?

My review:

After reviewing Laura Jackson’s debut novel, Worth the Wait, last year, I quickly volunteered to review her next book in the series, Worth the Time.Worth the Time

Worth the Time tells the story of Lindsey, a young lady with a cool exterior, but layers of hurt underneath. In her final year of school, her mum reveals a secret that rocks Lindsey’s world – the father she thought had abandoned her now wants to meet her. As well as coming to grips with what this means for her future, Lindsey starts to develop feelings for a guy at the community centre where she is volunteering, but becomes frustrated when he doesn’t seem to fall for her charms. Through the help of key people in Lindsey’s life, she begins to understand God’s love for her and learns that she is worth His time.

Similar to Laura’s first book, a great theme in this book is that despite our sin, we are precious to God. There are second chances for all who will come to God seeking his forgiveness.

I liked how this novel included some of the character’s from Worth the Wait. It made me want to go back and read it once again. However, I found that Laura had done such a good job of making Lindsey unlikeable that I didn’t warm up to her as quickly as I would liked to have. Perhaps if there had been more depth to some of Lindsey’s conversations and internal dialogue, I might have got there earlier. Having said that, it was encouraging to see Lindsey’s transformation as she learns that she doesn’t have to pretend to be someone else in order to be loved.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book that kept my interest and reminded me not to dwell on past sins and to look to God when life seems crazy. Recommended for teens, young adults, and the young at heart who enjoy a fun Christian read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for my honest review.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

To see my ratings system, click here

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Book review: ‘Silenced’ by Dani Pettrey

From the back cover:

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna’s route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake’s past now revealed, he’s ready to use his talent for investigation again–but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.
Kayden’s climbing expertise soon leads her and Jake to the realization that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is onto them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger. But the truth is far worse than he could ever imagine.

My review:

This is now the second book I have read in the Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey (see my review of Stranded here). As I mentioned in my earlier review, I recommend reading this series from the start, as there was a lot of back story I missed by reading only the third and fourth books.

Silenced begins with a murder mystery, as Kayden McKenna finds a dead rock climber and immediately suspects foul play. With her climbing expertise, she is the logical choice to accompany former cop (and newly appointed deputy sheriff), Jake Westin, in his quest to find out the truth.

The book is written largely from Kayden and Jake’s point of view, although there are several passages written from the perspective of minor characters in the book. I felt that the point of view changed too frequently, often due to very short scenes, and I got confused as to whose head I was in at times. I think this was the main reason why I didn’t feel as invested in the characters as I could have been. The other thing that bothered me was the inefficiency of Kayden and Jake’s interviewing technique – meaning they had to visit/revisit suspects because they didn’t ask the right questions first time around (although I guess the book would have been too short if they got all their answers straight away).

Throughout the book, Kayden has to come to terms with her fear of letting anyone get close to her, and her fear of dying. It was nice to see her heart warm to Jake throughout their investigation, and his protectiveness was touching. I particularly enjoyed the last third of the book, when Jake’s past catches up with him and Kayden’s life is on the line – this part of the story was very suspenseful.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book, although I’m not sure whether I would read the next book in the series.

Thank you, NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for providing me a free copy of this book  in exchange for my honest opinion.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

To see my ratings system, click here

Book Review: ‘To Die Once’ by Miranda A. Uyeh

From the back cover:

To Die Once Ebook Cover

Two men, one woman, a rosebush …

… a terrible past, an uncertain future

From a culture where good girls follow the norm and live as they’ve been told, Jennifer is no different from any other girl until by happenstance, she meets and falls in love with Rodrigo, a man who’s handsome, rich and foreign. Different. She has no idea who he is or what he does, and is swept into a world of romance and passion. It is not long before she discovers a shocking truth that shakes both her world and his.

Then he is gone.

Stefano shows up at a time when Jennifer has made up her mind about the rules of life. He thinks she’s beautiful and is in love with her. In a bid to convince her to give him a chance in her life, old memories once buried are brought to life. And the events that follow don’t leave anyone unaffected by the truth of the past that was left unsettled.

Meanwhile, Jennifer with her friend Chidi, find themselves on a self-discovery journey that has one of them raising questions.

Some just have to ask, where is God in all this?

… an inspirational romance, from Lagos to Italy.

My review: I happily obliged when Miranda asked me to participate in her book tour for her debut novel, To Die Once.

Coming off the back of two solid weeks of exam preparation, it took a while for me to get into this book. The first chapter really didn’t hook me, and the physical attraction between the two main characters, Jennifer and Rodrigo, seemed too much too soon – I wished I’d known more about Jennifer so I could empathise with her more in all the ups and downs of her relationship with Rodrigo.

Thankfully, the story and characters came alive after the first few chapters, with plenty of twists and turns in the plot that kept me in suspense. I think if Miranda had re-written the earlier chapters in the same way, I would have been hooked right from the start. There were some touching moments between the characters, particularly between Jennifer and her best friend, Chidi. If only we all had a friend like that during times of need.

The spiritual themes in the book included forgiveness, repentance and learning to trust when everything tells you otherwise. It was an inspirational novel that I’m sure will appeal to many Christians, particularly those who feel out of step with God’s plan.

Overall, it was a very solid effort from Miranda. She has loads of talent and I look forward to seeing what she comes out with next.

Recommended for those who enjoy passionate romance books with Christian themes.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

To see my ratings system, click here

About the author

IMG_6074Miranda A. Uyeh is an assistant lecturer at a local college in Makurdi City, Nigeria, where she teaches two geology courses. Her love for books goes as far back as when her father placed Disney’s Rapunzel in her hands—her very first storybook! By the time she was thirteen she knew she was going to be a writer. You can find Miranda on her blog where she shares her love for books, entertainment and Christian spirituality with her readers. Miranda holds a B.Tech (Hons) in Applied Geology from ATBU, Nigeria. To Die Once is her debut novel, #1 of the Child of Grace book series.

To find out more, visit Miranda’s blog – http://mautobeaperson.wordpress.com/

 

Book Review: ‘Bridge to Haven’ by Francine Rivers

From the back cover:

To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua—Abra’s closest friend—watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

My review:

I haven’t read a Francine Rivers’ book I didn’t like. I’ve been following Francine on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest on the release of her new book, Bridge to Haven, which hit stores on the 22 April 2014. Despite being thick enough to knock someone out (a handy bedside weapon if ever needed), I read it within two days, almost non-stop. I even read it while eating breakfast, which might be a first for me.

Before I get into my review, I just have to say how much I love the cover of this book!

The story follows Abra through her childhood up until her mid-twenties, and it is not for the faint hearted. The heartbreaking experiences in Abra’s formative years cause her to pull back from others and seek her identity elsewhere. Her need to ‘be somebody’ leads her away from family and God and into the arms of men who only want to use her. This part of the book was hard to read, mainly because I really sympathised with Abra and felt her pain. Those familiar with Francine Rivers’ books will know that she writes about difficult topics such as sexual sin and abuse in a very ‘real’ way.

The saving grace in the book is Abra’s childhood friend, Joshua. His patience with Abra and unconditional forgiveness are inspiring – a picture of Jesus’ love (If you’ve read ‘Redeeming Love’, his character is very similar to Hosea). There are many other heartwarming and colourful characters that paint a vivid landscape for the story.

There were only a couple of minor issues I had with the book, such as some head-hopping in one of the latter chapters in the book. There was also a ‘twist’ at the end of the book that seemed to be quite rushed.

Just as a side note, my husband thought the name Abra was strange and asked me if her last name was ‘Cadabra’ (it isn’t, by the way).

Also, as a word of caution, there is a marital love-making scene in the book, although it is described in sensual rather than physical language so I didn’t feel it was inappropriate, but others may feel differently.

The themes of God’s forgiveness and acceptance are present throughout this book, and make for a challenging but inspiring read. Recommended for those who enjoy Christian romance books without puppies and rainbows.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

To see my ratings system, click here

Book Review: ‘A Home For My Heart’ by Anne Mateer

From the back cover:

Sadie Sillsby works as the assistant to the matron at the Raystown Home for Orphan and Friendless Children and dreams of the day she’ll marry her beau, Blaine. But when the matron surprises everyone by announcing her own engagement, Sadie is suddenly next in line for the job. For a young woman who was once an orphan herself, a shot at such an esteemed position is a wish come true.

But the matron of the Home cannot be married. Is Sadie willing to give up her dreams of a life with Blaine and a family of her own? Is she prepared to forgo daily involvement with the children as she instead manages the financial, legal, and logistical aspects of the orphanage?

And when it’s revealed that the Home is spending a lot more money than it’s taking in, can Sadie turn things around before the place is forced to close forever?

My review:

The first thing that struck me about this book was that it was written from the first person perspective, which is very unusual in historical Christian romance. While I do enjoy first person narratives in other genres, eg young adult or chick lit, I wasn’t sure at first if it was really working for the book – however, I soon forgot about my initial hesitation.

Sadie Sillsby, a former orphan, finds herself in the position of matron at the orphanage where she grew up. Having worked there for years, she feels more than qualified for the job and is even willing to give up a chance at love to take on the position she feels God has called her to.

Much of this story revolves around events at the orphanage and the dilemma that Sadie faces in keeping the orphanage open. Sadie has a lot to learn in her new position and it is satisfying to see her grow in the role and in maturity as a woman. In addition to all this, she has the added confusion of how to act around Blaine, whom she rejected for the role, and Earl, a charming gentleman from The Children’s Aid Society. Will her heart ever find a home?

The storyline was fairly predictable, without too much conflict, but the character development was interesting enough to make this an enjoyable read for me. Recommended for those who enjoy sweet, easy-read, historical romances.

Thank you, NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

To see my ratings system, click here

Book Review: ‘Worth the Wait’ by Laura Jackson

From the back cover:

9781938708268Ellie Lansing has a picture-perfect life with a close-knit family and the perfect boyfriend. But her world is suddenly knocked off center when her drool-worthy boyfriend cheats, and her always-has-it-together mother is diagnosed with cancer. Ellie doesn’t get it. She always does the right thing—doesn’t God owe her a happy life? Through her heartache, Ellie learns that sometimes what seems like the end is really just the beginning and that what God has for us is always worth the wait

My review:

When Laura Jackson was looking for some early reviewers for her début novel, Worth the Wait, I read the synopsis and eagerly volunteered. I’m a fan of YA Christian romance, even though I’m in my thirties now, and I had high expectations of this book.

I’m pleased to say that it was an enjoyable read – a book I wish I’d read in my teenage years. The main character, Ellie, had a picture perfect life with a dream boyfriend, but when she returns home from a summer in Nantucket, she notices things with Dylan have changed. As the truth comes out, Ellie finds herself struggling for answers. Thankfully, God puts the right people in Ellie’s life who help her navigate through this dark period and realise that despite being rejected, she is valued by God and worth the wait.

The book deals with common issues for teenagers, such as premarital sex, binge drinking and schoolyard gossip, from a Christian world view. Laura’s writing reminded me a little of Melody Carlson’s books.

For a first novel, I thought Laura did an awesome job. There were some scenes, mainly towards the beginning, that felt were a bit rushed and it would have been nice to dwell in them some more, but overall, the book moved at a good pace. Most of the twists and turns in the plot didn’t take me by surprise, but I didn’t mind.

I felt that the characters of Ellie, Dylan, and Joshua were built very well, and the romance elements were sweet. The descriptions of how Ellie felt when her mom was diagnosed with cancer were spot on – I speak from experience as my mother went through the same thing when I was a teen.

The book had strong spiritual themes of finding contentment in God and waiting for God’s best – I think these would encourage not only teens, but adults as well.

Recommended for teens, young adults, and the young at heart who enjoy a romantic Christian read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for my honest review.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

To see my ratings system, click here

Book Review: ‘Be Still My Soul’ by Joanne Bischof

From the back cover:

Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith.  But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate.

Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing  Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.

Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life.  What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?

Gideon only ever cared about himself. Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?

My review:

This was the first book I’ve read by Joanne Bischof. I rarely buy hard-copy books these days (e-books are easier to carry around) but from the reviews I’d read from other bloggers, I really wanted to have this one sitting on my shelf. Be Still My Soul is Bishof’s début novel and she has done a fantastic job.

I quickly found myself drawn into the book and the setting, initially appalled by the way Lonnie was treated by her father, and then by Gideon.
I really hated Gideon, the ‘hero’, from the start of the book and I felt like Bischof would have to perform a miracle to get me to like him again, but she did just that. By the end of the book, to my surprise, I was cheering for him.

I didn’t feel like I got to know Lonnie as well as I would have liked – maybe if there was more reflection on her background, the way she related to her mother, her relationship with God, her likes/dislikes. Having said that, there are two more books in the series, so hopefully Lonnie’s character is developed some more in these.

The plot moved along at a swift pace, with many conflicts and heartbreaking moments. I was really pleased that there was a satisfying ending to the story, although I know I’m in for more angst with book #2 from reading the back cover.

The spiritual element of this book was present throughout, with references to God and verses from the Bible. I liked how Lonnie’s relationship with her aunt was a source of strength and reminded her to trust that God’s eyes were upon her. I look forward to seeing how the future books build on Gideon’s developing faith.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful story and I will definitely buy the next two books in the series to see how Gideon and Lonnie trust God as they face the challenges before them.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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