Friday, May 12, 2017

Reviewer's Bookshelf: The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

Book Summary (Goodreads): She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.

Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage.

But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.

Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.

Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to the uncle’s evil plan.

My thoughts...I'm not very familiar with the goose girl fairy tale, so I can't really say how closely this novel followed or connected with that story. I would also mention that I'm reviewing this novel with the Young Adult (YA) categorization in mind, as I feel that this novel is more relevant for that age group.

The overall storyline of The Noble Servant was entertaining. I liked the plot twists and the way that different characters were posing as other people, so there were always different consequences happening as a result of that. The lies and corruption were not glamorized, so I felt that this was a good moral lesson that was shown in the story. It was also a very clean novel. While there was some mild romantic tension, I thought it was appropriate for a YA novel. Magdalen and Steffan's moral character grew through the story, as they learned humility through their circumstances. For those reasons, it is a novel I believe my young daughter would enjoy.

The only things that, in considering it's a YA novel, that concerned me was the way that murder was the constant threat to the characters. It seemed to be the only option in dealing with those who stood in opposition the evil characters plotting against the more virtuous one. For example, one character consistently told Magdalen if she didn't do something, she would be killed and her friend would be killed, If someone came to her aide, they would be murdered. Basically all the "good guys" were threatened to be killed. At one point even Magdalen herself found pleasure in the idea of murdering her adversary in her sleep by stabbing her in the heart. While very few killings actually took place, and the ones that did were in self-defense, I found that aspect a little intense for a YA reader. For an adult, not so much. I've read several YA novels, and many of the mainstream books in this category can be much more intense. With Christian fiction, I tend to be a little stronger with my critique.

**I received a free copy of this novel to give an honest opinion, which I did.**

Friday, May 5, 2017

Reviewer's bookshelf: "Wings of the Wind" by Connilyn Cossette

Book Summary (Amazon): Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving. 

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can't ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage--for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she's found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah's fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she's come to love?

My thoughts...My eyes were immediately drawn to the cover of this novel. It communicated mystery, beauty, and Biblical history...I was intrigued. I had never read a novel by Connilyn Cossette, but I wanted to take a chance with someone new. I was not disappointed! : )

This book is part of a series, but I was able to enjoy this as a stand-alone novel. I found the plot to be steady, interesting, and with a good amount of tension. I have never read a story that has taken place during the time of the Israelites in their 40 years of wandering the desert before entering into the Promised Land. Cossette opened up their world to me through this novel, portraying the struggles, hopes, and difficulties that could be associated with that time in history. I also thought the way she showed the perspectives of a Hebrew man and contrasted it with a Canaanite woman were well done.

Love, faith, war, survival, redemption...these are just some of the themes of this novel. I enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend it!

**I received a copy of this book in order to share my thoughts and opinions, which I did.**

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Reviewer's bookshelf: "True to You" by Becky Wade

Book Summary (Amazon): 

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he's diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. 

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John's already dating someone and Nora's not sure she's ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they're seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

My thoughts...
When I saw that Becky Wade had a new series coming out, I was so excited! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of her books so far, and hoped this new series would still include the things I love: interesting plot line, romantic tension, and well constructed characters. Oh'll get all that good stuff in True to You! Not to mention another gorgeous cover!

I love Nora's character. I got a little more background from reading the novella prequel, Then Came You, but you can still read True to You as a stand alone and get her story. A lot of who Nora is was shaped by a tragic past, but also by a hopeful future with her family and relationship with God. She's portrayed as down to earth, joking with her sister about her attraction to John Lawson but never seeing it go anywhere. The honesty and humor kept the reading fun. John is also a complex character whose outward appearance portrays him as tough and disciplined with his military background, but you also see a vulnerable side....which makes him even more attractive. : )

Once again, Becky Wade has won me over and I can't wait to see what's going to happen with the rest of the Bradford sisters! I definitely recommend this one!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher to express my honest opinions, which I have.**