Thursday, May 19, 2016

Reviewer's Bookshelf: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

Book Summary (Amazon)The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.
Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea. 
Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences.
My thoughts...I have to start out by saying that this is one of my new favorite books by Melanie Dickerson!  I absolutely LOVED this story.  It had the perfect balance of sweet romance/romantic tension, mystery, and action.  And it's set in medieval England....which I also love.  It starts out as a kind of medieval "The Bachelor." The Margrave has several ladies come so that he can observe them, interact with them, and choose one to be his bride.  Avelina does not want to be there and is forced into going by the Earl of Plimmwald. She does all that she can to fulfill her duty and secure her and her family's future provision without giving the Margrave any indication that she's interested in being his bride. Even when things do not go as she thought they would, she doesn't lose heart or turn to self-pity. I love wounded male characters...and Melanie Dickerson writes them to perfection!  My other favorite book of hers is "The Merchant's Daughter," which also has a similar male hero.  The vulnerability of the Margrave, combined with his inner strength and courage, make him a hero that you want to see happy and fulfilled.  His rough exterior makes him even more appealing. 
The combination of well-written characters and an interesting plot make this a novel I would highly recommend.  I thought the pace of the story was just right. There were slower moments where you learn more about the characters and their motives, but faster-paced moments of action that created excitement and tension.  A great book for teens and up!
**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which I gave.**

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd

Book summary (Goodreads): For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady yet unexciting role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would provide her a steady environment to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.

The unexpected arrival of a striking stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with mysterious rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. And perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.

At Emberwilde, Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.

My thoughts...This story is centered around Isabel's journey through a short part of her life that will affect the rest of her future.  It is definitely a journey that involves pain and heartache, but she also sees how much she is loved and how she can authentically love others.  
     There are some slightly suspenseful moments when she has an encounter in the mysterious woods at Emberwilde, but this could have been explored further.  From the beginning of Isabel's relationship with her family, there is an overall sense that something isn't right.  That part of the plot was interesting and well-developed.  The romantic aspect of the plot did have some tension, but I would've welcomed even more intensity, within the boundaries of still being a clean read.  
    Overall, this novel had a slower pace.  The characters were interesting and the plot had nice development with some twists and turns, but I would've welcomed a little more tension and intensity.

**I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in order to give an honest review**

Saturday, May 7, 2016

ESV Family Devotional Review and GIVEAWAY!

**And the winner is...Mrs. Ann Peacock!!  Congrats!  Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented!**
The ESV FAMILY DEVOTIONAL BIBLE is a hardbound colorful Bible.  It retells 130 key stories from the Bible with full color illustrations for each story, as well as placed within the Bible text where it is found.  The stories are simplified and easy for children of all ages to understand.  

The ESV Family Devotional Bible is designed to help families read and apply God’s Word together. This full-color edition features the complete ESV text interspersed with engaging illustrations and gospel-centered devotions related to key Bible stories—guiding families through the entirety of God’s Word over the course of a year. Each devotion also includes discussion questions and suggestions for additional reading, helping families develop a habit of reading the Bible together and applying its truth to all of life. 

When we received our ESV Family Devotional Bible last week, I started right away using it during our homeschool Bible time.  My kids are 9, 7, and 4, and the devotions we read were easy for the kids to understand, not too long, and I liked the questions that were at the end of each lesson.  The illustrations are more traditional, but very well done.  When I first learned of the opportunity to review this book, I thought that it would only have devotions in it and not the actual Biblical text.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that you had a full Bible AND the devotions.  Our family will continue to use this regularly and I would definitely recommend it. 
Social Corner~
Check out the ESV Family Devotional Bible in social media:
~Facebook has the devotion featured on the Crossway publisher page
~Twitter also has a post
~Pick up a copy from Amazon

So you can have the opportunity to try this devotional with your family, I will be giving away 1 FREE COPY to anyone who posts a comment (in the US and Canada only)!  Just leave a comment telling why you'd be interested in having a copy for your family.  I will draw a winner on Friday, May 13th.  I look forward to reading your comments!!

God bless!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Book Summary (Goodreads)Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he's indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him? 
But Dru's a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She's also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray's stalker. And she's just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts--and their lives--to one another?

My thoughts... just can't go wrong with a Becky Wade novel!  This is the fourth book in the Porter family series, but you could read it as a stand alone and still enjoy it.  But I would highly recommend the previous books in the series as well...they're that good!  I honestly love a good tough girl heroine.  Dru is your ultimate tough girl: she likes leather jackets, riding her motorcycle, and isn't afraid of pretty much anything.  She walks into dangerous situations with confidence and skill.  As a professional bodyguard, her new assignment is Gray Fowler, a veteran football player who is receiving threatening letters. Gray is a more ways than one.  He loves to flirt and be with women with no strings attached.  If a woman gets attached, he cuts the strings quick.  I love these images Becky Wade creates of Gray:
"His eyes glowed a slaying shade of pale green."
"He was a blocker, a receiver, a menace.  He was football poetry."
Good stuff!!
When Dru becomes one of his protective detail, she is not the kind of woman he typically interacts with.  The sparks fly between these two, but it isn't just romantic sparks as Gray sees Dru not only as another conquest, but as someone he wants to protect.  As that protective instinct rises, so do the memories of his past.  His past is his vulnerability.  
     You can almost feel the romantic tension between these two characters from the beginning, but you also see the conflict.  There is a spiritual divide between Dru and Gray, and the difficulty is something many can relate to. How do you resist physical attraction to someone that doesn't believe what you do?  As that escalates, so does the threat on Gray's life.  There's potential danger around every corner.  I honestly didn't want this story to end.  I thought the tension was well balanced, the pace was great, and the way that Wade writes romance while still keeping it clean is fantastic.  Love this book and highly recommend it!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give an unbiased review, which I did.**