Unblemished: a book review

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Description: 

Eliyana can’t bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her like he does: normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird. Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

My Review: 

I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. Filled with twists and turns, it kept me glued to the pages until the end – and then it left me hanging. Argh!
The plot was well done and I an very interested in learning more about the story world Ella has created and watching it expand. It promises to be a very interesting ride.

The mirror realm is very interesting, a bit like New York might have been if it had never been developed, but rather has a handful of almost medieval style villages with a fantasy twist.

The mythos of the world is a bit confusing. The revelations come in small bites, bit by bit. Good way to keep my mystery loving mind engaged. However, I can’t really find the christian message in this book. There is a light vs. darkness theme, but it’s all a bit muddled. Hopefully book 2 will bring clarification.

There is also a love triangle (yes, I can hear y’all screaming now.). I have to give it to Ella, though. Normally, I can decide who our female MC should go for within moments of meeting the two potential romantic interests.

Not this time.

When I started, I was totally team Joshua. Ky, well… he irritated me, and I don’t usually go for the ‘bad boys’. But by the end of the novel, I ditched Joshua and now sit firmly in team Ky. Joshua can hang. Elyana had better not end up with him. Ky turns out to be a good guy deep down, with a lot of depth. Joshua has depths too, but it’s mighty murky down there. Total snake in the grass, that one.

I all, I really enjoyed the ride and book 2 can’t come fast enough.

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory:

It’s been over a month since I ready this, so I can’t fully recall the details, but aside from some (non-graphic) violence I can’t recall anything bad about this book.

 

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Happy Reading y’all!

Bite Sized Reviews

 Robyn Hood: A Girl’s Tale by K.M. Shea  

One thing I do love about K.M. Shea is her ability to turn many a familiar story into a laugh riot. While some of the characters could be downright stupid at times, it never hurt my enjoyment of the story. After recently reading a terrible Robin Hood book from another author, I picked this one up in hopes that my love of the story would be rekindled, and hopefully not butchered again. While this book isn’t your ordinary Robin Hood tale, I absolutely loved it. Between this book and the movie playing in the same room at the time I was reading, I laughed so hard I cried.
Robyn has a wonderfully sarcastic voice, and you can’t help but love her and her boys, silliness, stupidity and all. If you haven’t read a K.M. Shea book yet, do yourself a favor and pick one up. You won’t regret it.

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A Lady of Integrity by Shelley Adina 

This one started a bit slower for me, tougher to get into. But in the end, as always, it was a rollicking good ride. Clockwork cities, Undersea dirigibles, krakens, betrayals and more. This book has plenty to offer any lover of steampunk. Adina puts her characters through the wringer. Anything that could possibly go wrong, did. Lots of twists I didn’t see coming. Many times throughout the book, a good resolution seemed impossible. But it was, and Adina did it in fine style.

 

 

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For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund

This book is undoubtedly the best of the series. Sabine is fun, determined, and quirky. Bennet is an admirable guy who I respect for being so determined not to marry a woman just to take advantage of her money. They could both be a bit bullheaded at times, but not unbearably so.

One felt so bad for Sabine, the way so many people treated her just because of a minor skin blemish was heartbreaking. Human narrow-mindedness and superstition never cease to amaze me.

The stakes in this book are high and several times you really wondered how any of them could get out of that mess. I found myself eagerly flipping the pages to find out what happened next.

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The Yielding by Tamara Leigh

I enjoyed the first book in this series, but this one dragged. The plot was solid, but most of the story focused on the back-and-forth between the two MCs, which never seemed to get very far. The romance felt more like lust than love much of the time, and there was a bit too much fondling going on to be a comfortable read. Leigh was toeing the ‘Clean Christian Fiction’ line with this one, and I’ll admit that makes me hesitate about reading the next one.
The hero also tended to be a serious jerk. While I understand why he treated Beatrix the way he did, it really got old after a while.

 

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Deliver: a book review

deliver Description:

Can something broken ever heal?

Martyn is broken. After torturing his best friend, he doesn’t belong anywhere in Acktar. No matter how far he runs, he can’t lose his guilt.

Leith is broken. While healing from the torture he received at Nalgar Castle, he struggles to find his new role. But can a Blade ever outrun his past?

The country is broken. Bitterness divides town against town, neighbor against neighbor. What will it take to deliver Acktar from itself?

They face their hardest battle yet.
Peace.

 

My Review: 

Can they ever be more than Blades?

One might think that with the war over and Respen the usurper gone, peace will have settled on the land and everybody lives happily ever after. Right?

Not Quite.

The new Acktar has no place for Blades. Those who were not banished struggle to find a place in a world where they can’t seem to fit, living in constant fear of being discovered for what they are, and killed. Rebuilding what they destroyed might take more than they can give.

Leith, still struggling with healing wounds, takes most of the other Blades to Stetterly to help with rebuilding, but if the villagers learn the truth, will a pardon be protection enough? Forgiveness is slow in coming, but as Rovers and the remains of Respen’s army plague the countryside once again, the Blades skill may be the only thing that saves the people of Stetterly.

Martyn, angry and guilty, has trouble letting go of what was. When King Keevan gives him a chance to get away, scouting the borders for trouble. He takes it. A chance encounter changes his plans abruptly, but is it enough to change his heart? When Martyn uncovers a sinster plot to be rid of the newly crowned King, past secrets come back to haunt him. They may just destroy him.

Deliver was one heck of a finale to the Blades of Ackar! This series is one of my favorites, and I’ve already read it several times over. Most likely I will be re-reading it again soon! Tricia Mingerink never fails to impress. The ending was a happy one, but I’m still a bit sad that the series is finally over. I still find myself wishing for ‘just one more book’! Or at least a little more about how certain things turned out. I would have loved to see the scene with a certain trial and Keevan placing his proposal before the nobles. It could have gotten interesting.

It was wonderful to see Leith and the Faythe sisters again, seeing how much they’ve changed since the beginning. Renna especially has grown a lot, stepping up from timid girl to strong leader. The new addition of Martyn’s POV adds some new tension and plenty of sarcasm. Both plots were beautifully crafted and well paced. Battle scenes were strong and faith is foremost in this story.

The only thing in the story that felt slightly off to me is that one character who was severely injured, did a lot more than he ever should have been capable of considering his injuries. I felt that the author greatly downplayed the injuries. If his wounds were not that serious, it should have been mentioned, nor should his recovery have taken as long as it did.  It’s a minor quibble though, and in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: clean and sweet. There was one point in the plot where some men attempted to attack a girl, but it was kept very clean.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs: Laudanum and whiskey was used for painkiller on an injured character, making him unusually talkative!
Blood/violence: There is a lot of violence and a bit of blood, but Mingerink never goes into detailed descriptions. Though there are several battles, death and a variety of wounds from sword wounds, to arrows, rocks, and severe burns, the author still keeps it clean.

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Happy Reading y’all!

Engaged in Trouble: a book review

engaged in troubleDescription:

When a washed-up pop star inherits a wedding planning business, it’s all bouquets and bliss until a bride turns up dead.

Paisley Sutton shot to stardom as a teenage rock sensation, but ten years later that star has fizzled out, just like her bank account. When she unexpectedly inherits her aunt’s wedding planning business, Paisley leaves the glamour of Los Angeles for a charming small town in Arkansas. Thinking she’ll arrive in Sugar Creek and liquidate the moldly property, Paisley’s shocked to find Enchanted Events has experienced a major makeover and is now the place for brides. She’s got two months to keep Enchanted Events afloat if she wants to sell and rekindle her music career with the profits.

Paisley’s tossed into a world of vows and venues, but her most difficult challenge comes in the form of one demanding bride. When this Bridezilla’s found facedown in her cake, all fingers point to Paisley as the prime murder suspect. And she does not look good in prison orange.

This former pop princess will need the help of her gun-toting, ex-CIA grandmother and her handsome neighbor, Beau Hudson, to unravel the mystery and clear her good name. As she and her unruly posse dig into Bridezilla’s life, she discovers the woman had a long list of enemies. The closer Paisley gets to the truth, the more her own life is in danger.

Love is in the air this wedding season, but before Paisley can help the ladies of Sugar Creek say, “I do,” she’s got to unveil a killer. Or find herself the next target.

My Review: 

From the moment Paisley Sutton hits Sugar Creek with plans to sell off her great aunt’s old business, it’s just one mess after another. When the worst bridezilla ever (who just happens to belong to Paisley’s own very ex-fiance) is found murdered shortly after Paisley publicly threatens said ex-fiance with dire retribution – all evidence points to her. Not her wisest move, but he did wreck her career and publicly humiliate her. A little anger is to be expected, right? Too bad the cops don’t see it that way.

Loaded with heaping scoops of Jones’s trademark wit, Engaged in trouble is a fast paced ride from beginning to end.

Paisley is a fun heroine. She’s quirky, she’s flawed, she’s emotional, and doesn’t always learn the first time. But she won’t go down without a fight! Her determination is admirable, even when it’s aimed in the wrong direction.

Grandma Sylvie, the terrifying ex-CIA sister of Mad Maxine from the Katie Parker series, is probably the most fun character in the book. Though there are a lot of similarities between her and her sister, she is still her own character – and this one comes packing heat! Unable to fully leave behind the thrill of the “glory days” of her time in the CIA, she’s definitely not someone you want on your bad side, or probably even within fifty feet! Life is never dull wherever Sylvie or her stalwart partner Frannie are!

Beau on the other hand, is just meh in my opinion. Jones is great at writing zany small town adventures, and a mystery that keeps me guessing. I actually didn’t fully figure out whodunit until the characters did – which is unusual for me – but her romance has always felt a bit weak. I never connected with Beau at all, at some points I almost got a bit of a creepy vibe from him.

The only thing that kept this book from being a full five stars was some innuendo. Nothing explicit, but more than should have been seen in a Christian novel.

My Rating: four stars

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: Beau loves to make insinuations from everything Paisley says. Sylvie and Frannie meanwhile just insinuate for the sake of it, almost all the time. Aside from that, the romance itself was clean. Unfortunately, the innuendo makes this one a book I wouldn’t recommend to anyone younger than older teen/adult.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs: One character was found to be supplying another with subscription drugs.
Blood/violence: Not too much violence overall. There is a fire, and a murder that  happens off-page. Some blood is mentioned briefly at the crime scene.

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Happy Reading y’all!

Desert Rains: a book review

desert rains

Description: 

Enter the world of Balia, a place not so different from our own. Explore lush landscapes and rich cultures as Balia’s creator, TrueGod, moves through many times and places to find lost and broken people to call his own. In the ancient desert town of Alagor, nobody is more lost and broken than Banar, the lame beggar, unless it’s Anna, the royal slave, or Alandro, the wounded baker, or even Malia, the lonely noble daughter. When TrueGod unexpectedly weaves their lives together, he creates unlikely alliances that will not only save the city from the secret plans of a power-seeking magistrate, but may also heal their individual lives as they step out of their ordinary roles and do things none would have dared alone. If they fail, lives all across Alagor will be lost, including their own.

My Review:

Desert Rains blew me away.

This was actually the very first book I read by author Jill Penrod. At the time, I didn’t go in expecting much from a self published author (Though I have since found that most of my favorites live in the grand realm of self-publishing!).

I am so happy to say that this book surpassed even my highest expectations and I found myself completely enthralled with this story and its characters. Determined Banar who endured so much and is willing to fight for a better life for himself and his family. Sacrificial Alandro who finds himself a family in the most unexpected way. Hurting Ragen, patient Anna, and sassy Malia and Yarrow, the only couple who protect their secret love with the use of reverse psychology – by pretending to hate each other!

Once incident throws them all together, plots are hatched and tensions rise politically and in the city below as drought ravages the lands. Lines are drawn between the followers of TrueGod and the followers of a pagan belief and threaten to to tear the city inside out, with this unusual mix of people in the center of it all. But can a beggar, a baker, a coddled princess, a foreign prince, and a slave really make all that much of a difference?

I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a beautiful story about handing all your worries to God, giving him your absolute trust, and how God can use even the most unlikely of people to accomplish his greatest works. I highly recommend Penrod’s Balia books (except for Gypsy Heart, that one was a uncharacteristic bust) and eagerly await whatever comes next.

If you want to check out her books, she has one Balia novel, Nevernight Fortress, up for free on her website along with books related to a couple of her other series (See website link at bottom of article).

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory: Sorry everyone. It has been a couple of years since I read this book. My memory of much of the details are not too clear anymore. So I won’t be doing a full heat advisory.

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Happy Reading y’all!

 

Long Time Gone: a book review

Description: connealy

The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

My Review: 

Things are really heating up at the Boden ranch. As Cole fights for his life, the rest of his family hunt desperately for answers. Though Dantalion is dead, the clues he leaves behind point to a much larger conspiracy that will put more than just the Bodens in danger.

The plot of Long Time Gone was fast paced and fun, with a helping of Connealy’s trademark whit, though it isn’t as pronounced as usual. There is plenty of intrigue and action that will keep you locked to the book, even when you should be doing other things.

The main weak point of this novel were the characters. Though they weren’t bad by any means, they just…lacked something.
As the main heroine, Angie was okay, but we didn’t really didn’t get enough of a strong backstory for me to fully connect with her. She fell a bit flat to me. She kept fighting her attraction to Justin in the first half of the story, saying she needed to stand on her own, but suddenly near the last third of the story she is just falling into his arms and agreeing to marry him. The change felt abrupt and unless I totally missed something – which is possible given how busy I was around the time I read it – her breakneck turnaround was never really explained much, no catalyst that I could find – except attraction.

Justin was a decent hero, but a bit forgettable. I read the book only last week and I’m already having trouble recalling any details about him.

Long Time Good was another solid read by Connealy and I am eager to read the final book, but I don’t think this is nearly her best work.

***I got this book free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a good review. Heck, do you think I would have been so critical  if I was?***

My Rating:

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: some kissing and the mention of one character having several illegitamate children.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs: clean
Blood/violence: This is the wild west, there will be fights and shootouts. It’s practically a law in this genre. There is a bit of blood, as several gunshot wounds are tended throughout the story, and there are some deaths. But Connealy doesn’t go into gruesome detail.

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Happy Reading y’all!

A Viscount’s Proposal: a book review

viscounts-proposal Description:

Leorah Langdon has no patience for Regency society’s shallow hypocrisy and unnecessary rules, especially for women. She’s determined to defy convention by marrying for grand passion instead of settling for a loveless union like her parents—or wedding a stuffy, pompous gentleman like Edward, the Viscount Withinghall. But when a chance meeting in the countryside leads to Leorah and Withinghall being discovered in his overturned carriage—alone and after dark—the ensuing gossip may force them together.

Withinghall has his reasons for clinging to propriety; his father perished in a duel with his mistress’s husband, and Edward must avoid scandal himself if he wants to become prime minister. He certainly has no time for a reckless hoyden like Miss Langdon. But soon the two discover that Withinghall’s coach “accident” was no such thing: the vehicle was sabotaged.

Can the culprit be brought to justice? Strong-willed Leorah and duty-driven Withinghall will have to work together if they have any hope of saving her reputation, his political career—and his life.

My Review:

I have to say, I enjoyed book one of this series a lot more than this one. It was a sweet story, and quite clean, I just couldn’t quite connect as well as I did with the first.

I did like Leorah. She was a strong willed girl who fought hard to never let society’s conventions dictate how she lived her life – or who she would marry. Scandal? Ha! She could hardly care less.

Edward, on the other hand is a completely different story. He’s as stiff and stuffy a fellow as you could hope to find, all in an effort to bury the sins of his past – the father who destroyed himself and nearly Edward with him.

When these two meet, they’re like oil and water. Tempers fly as they battle it out in a war of words and beliefs. As they are forced to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to see through their preconceived notions of each other. Edward may be stiff, but he has a very caring heart and will go out of his way to help others when he feels an injustice has been done, and Leorah may be a bit wild, but she’s pure gold.

The subplot of the story involves digging into the mystery of who wants Edward dead. Though suspects are easy to come by, motives are not. Not everyone who seems good is, nor are all villains pure evil. Melanie has beautiful description and the characters come alive on the page. Since I love regency and Dickerson’s books, i’m not completely certain why I didn’t connect well with the story, but it is a sweet read that any historical lover should totally try out.

My Rating: Four Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: clean, a kiss or two only. A mistress with a child and affairs are mentioned in background, but no real details.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs: One character was mentioned to have been drunk when he committed a crime, but we readers see nothing.
Blood/violence:  one death. several injuries, a fight and an attempted murder. No details are given, very little blood.

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Happy Reading y’all!

Dragonfly: a book review

 

dragonfly

Description: 

Eighteen-year-old Joshua Miller is great at being invisible, despite the four, large, insect-like wings protruding from his back and his knack for high-rise robberies. He can remember almost nothing of his life before Nik found him and taught him his trade. Now he’s alone, and he likes it that way. When Joshua unexpectedly meets Lexi on a job, his simple, uncomplicated existence shifts. Although he intends to remain uninvolved, something about her captivates him and he begins to let her in. As he navigates the strange nuances of a relationship with a girl as desperate to be different as he is to be ordinary, he becomes increasingly aware that he is not who he wants to be for her. Confronted by the past he’d forgotten and a family he didn’t know existed, Joshua must decide for himself where he belongs and who holds the key to his future.

My Review: 

I stumbled on this one by accident, and was completely intrigued by the premise. Joshua is a great character, troubled, but with a good heart beneath it all. He just needs a reason for his existence. He doesn’t know who he is or where he belongs. Trapped in a lonely limbo, he becomes enamored of  a girl who lives in a home he had initially planned to rob.

Lexi is a solid character as well, but I had to dock a star simply because their meeting was a little far fetched. What girl would trust the guy who came to rob her house, no matter how intriguing he is? And seriously, not only was he was dumb enough to take off his mask – but then he comes back to visit! if it wasn’t for that part, I would have easily given this book five stars.

It’s a very short book, but surprisingly well fleshed out. I didn’t feel as though the story was cut short or crammed too tightly. The pacing was perfect. But it needs a sequel, like yesterday! The end was slightly bittersweet, and while it was a complete story, the author left it wide open for sequels. I do hope to see some soon! So if you love spec-fic, go ahead and give this one a try. You won’t regret it.

My Rating: Four Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: pretty clean. There is some kissing, and two characters did spend a night in the same bed – They didn’t do anything! – But someone really should have slept on the floor instead.
Language:  clean
Drinking/Drugs: clean
Blood/violence: some fighting. A stabbing. Blood and some old murders mentioned. Skeleton found.

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Happy Reading y’all!