Perfectly Ridiculous

20120727-214253.jpg

Title: Perfectly Ridiculous
Author: Kristin Billerbeck
Series: Universally Misunderstood
Publisher: Revell
Published: July 1, 2012
Pages: 256

————————————

Daisy Crispin is happy to leave high school behind and is looking forward to starting new in college. Before she goes away she is planning an all-expenses-paid trip with her best friend Claire to Argentina. She can’t wait to sink her teeth in some exotic food, watch the tango, and possibly assess the relationship between her and her sort-of boyfriend, Max.

Her vacation comes to a screeching halt when she learns that she has to do missions work to fulfill the requirements for her college scholarship, not to mention her parents insist on coming with her. Now what was supposed to be a relaxing time in the lap of luxury turns into hard work, cots, avoiding scorpions, and stressing about her relationship with Max.

However, as she learns what life is like in true poverty, she becomes thankful for her life surrounded by toilet paper, homemade close, and too much family stuffed into one home. She also meets a boy who shows her what a healthy relationship can look like. If only she could forget Max and start something that doesn’t make her feel less than worthy.

Can Daisy finish her scholarship requirement or will she be stuck not going? Will Daisy learn to put more trust in God or will she rely on herself her whole life? Will trouble find her like it always does or will she finally have some time that’s trouble free? Will she be able to move on from Max or will she still allow him to have some hold over her?
———————————-

Having never read a book by this author, let alone this series, I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a book filled with adventure and trouble. Not reading the first two books in the series seems to be a mistake not just because of the mention of previous stories but because I missed all the trouble and sticky situation that Daisy and her friend seem to get into.

I connected with Daisy right away because of her parents. Like her, my parents are overly protective, but thankfully that’s where most of the similarities end. My family doesn’t make our own clothes, I don’t live in the garage surrounded by toilet paper, nor do my family use our home as a storage unit for the rest of my family’s stuff. Despite that, I felt a kinship with Daisy because, though I don’t know what it feels like to go to school with knockoffs and homemade clothes, I do know what embarrassment feels like. The portrayal of that embarrassment and teen angst that comes with wanting to grow up, is spot on and I give the author huge credit for being able to portray that in a way that someone not even close to being in that situation can understand.

My favorite part is her parents on vacation. I loved it. Her parents are the A-typical tourist floral shirt, muumuu and all. Which is totally embarrassing but I felt that it was a slightly humorous quirky touch to the story. Another thing I liked as well, was her parents role in the story, in the end, they trusted her and vice versa, and were really cool when Daisy needed them to be most. It really makes you appreciate the role your parents have in your life.

One thing I was really looking forward to was the ministry part of the book, unfortunately the author decided to not delve into that part and I was a little disappointed. In my opinion it was a huge opportunity wasted. I wanted to be shown the need there is for ministries in poverty stricken areas and the change it can bring the people who need help and the volunteers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given that, only slight touches and mentions, but because I wasn’t painted a real picture, I have to take the character’s word on how they live. Not to mention Daisy’s view on her role in this amazing thing is something she has to check off her list, not something life changing for her an those around her.

This book was a quick, enjoyable read. It wasn’t one that I would make my favorites list, but it was one that I feel most teen would probably enjoy. Though this book didn’t make this author one I have to read again, I will look forward to any more releases by her and will probably read more from her later.

Overall, an enjoyable, quick read, but not one that makes a real lasting impression. I recommend this to any teenage girl and those who love a young adult genre book that involves a lot of trouble. I give it’s book a three and a half out of five.

*I received this complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Veil Of Pearls

20120721-234003.jpg

Title: Veil of Pearls
Author: Marylu Tyndall
Publisher: Barbour Books
Published: July 1, 2012
Pages: 320

——————————-

Adalia Winston is a new immigrant to Charleston and s hiding a huge secret behind her light skin. She’s part black and a runaway slave from Barbados. After escaping her abusive owner, she hopes to use her skills in herbal remedies to survive. When she finds employment with a local doctor, she settles into a quiet life of freedom and respect. Though she relishes the new life she’s creating, she’s still fearful that her owner will find her and drag her back to a life she’d rather die than go back to.

Morgan Rutledge was born into one of Charleston’s most prominent families and a life he hates. Born with a handsomeness he’s well aware of, he spends most of his time drinking, partying, and wooing ladies. That is, until he meets Adalia. He becomes enamored with her, but she keeps spurning his advances, making him want her more. With a determination to win her over, he tries everything in his power to win her over. When he finally does, Adalia is swept up into Charleston’s high society and her want to impress.

As their relationship grows, Adalia soon realizes that her new life comes at a high price. She finds herself denying her heritage and her zeal for God. She now must ask herself how far she’s willing to go to win the heart of the man she loves. When her secret is revealed she wonders how Morgan will react, if their love is enough or if the truth will ruin all love Morgan has for her and send her back into slavery.

Will their love be enough to forge the bonds of slavery or will it crumble under the pressure? Will Adalia be forced to live the rest of her life with an abusive owner or will she have a life she never hoped to have? Will Morgan be willing to give up everything for her or will he choose status over love?
———————————–

I have been a huge fan of MaryLu Tyndall’s since her debut novel and have read almost all of the books she’s written. After her first four books, her books took a turn for the normal. Her books were still great, just not what I expected from her. This book, however, changed all that. This book is more like her first books and gives me hope that she will someday revisit her pirate books; the books that made me her fan.

One thing I love about this author is her romances. She has the ability to create a realistic romance with passion and class. This romance is no different. The passion in this book is more than you’ll see in the average Christian romance genre, but it’s done so tastefully and with such class that even the biggest stickler for an innocent romance could love this book.

Another reason why I love this author’s romances is because of the journey she takes you on. Because we all know what happens at the end of a romance novel, a great journey that leads you to the end is key for me. This book has that incredible journey that makes you actually a little sad at the last page because it means that you have to say goodbye to these characters. Since this book is a single title and not part of a series, it makes the ending that much sadder. I can only hope that maybe she makes a sequel to this book sometime in the future.

One thing I didn’t fully realize I missed was the faith in this book. So many Christian novels don’t really emphasize their faith in the book and I had gotten used to the lack of Bible verses and declarations of faith throughout the book. This book was full of examples of faith and the struggle it takes to be a follower of God. So many authors have a passion for Christ but don’t properly portray that passion in their novels; this author has shown me her passion for Him through Adalia’s passion for Christ. I look forward to seeing that passion in more of this author’s books.

MaryLu Tyndall has given me one of the best books she’s ever written. After several of waiting, she has given me what I’ve been waiting for, a book that makes me remember why I love her as an author so much. If I have to wait several more years to get a book this good or better from her again, I will do it, but I feel like she has found her niche and will stay in it. I have loved seeing her improve and grow as an author and look forward to watching her grow and improve more.

Overall, this is a fantastic book and I recommend it for anyone that loves a romance that takes you on an incredible journey. I don’t recommend this for younger readers but I feel that adults will love this book. I give this a five out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Christian Manifesto specifically for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Back to Resolution

20120716-214854.jpg

Title: Back to Resolution
Author: Rose Dee
Publisher: Even Before
Released: November 1, 2011
Pages: 238

———————————

Bay Anders has enjoyed every privilege a wealthy upbringing can bring her whole life. Despite all the luxuries in her life, the void in her soul refuses to be filled and the death of her mother doesn’t help. Before being forced to make a move to Australia, she goes on a path that will destroy her. Will her life a mess she goes looking for the father she never knew.

On her father’s island home, she realizes that she has a hazardous group of hostile locals and a mystery-her father’s disappearance. The only person who can help her find her father is a strong, aloof, and intensely magnetic man. Now Bay must fight an overwhelming attraction to him as she tries to stay focused on her goal to get to know her father.

Flynn McKenna came to Resolution island for one purpose, to hide from the world. A past filled with mistakes and a record caused him to live in seclusion and avoid women. But the arrival of a woman he can’t avoid shatters his solitary existence. He tries to resist the attraction he feels for her, but with the search for her father and the fact that he can only run so far before he hits ocean draws them together will he be able to?

Will the attraction fizzle or will it bubble over? Will Bay find her father alive or will the only time she sees him be at his funeral? Will Bay be able to fend off the developers obsessed with developing the island or will she cave under the pressure?
——————————-

I don’t fully know what I was expecting with this book, but I’m not sure this book delivered. I felt disappointed at the lack of depth in the characters as well as her lack of discretion when it came to the romance. Also, the descriptions were a little off. The author did pretty well at describing her character’s surroundings but there was just something missing that I can’t describe or fully know myself.

The romance was normally something I would enjoy. It was a passionate one that is anything but typical. However, this one wasn’t something that I did. The romance seems to be run more off the feelings of sparks and fireworks instead of a genuine emotional connection. Don’t get me wrong, there are parts where the characters connect emotionally, but the physical connection far out weighs the emotional. One of the rules of thumb of Christian romances is that you imply something that happened or would’ve happened without actually saying it, this author didn’t fully get that aspect.

One positive part of the book is the mystery. Though it didn’t get front and center, it’s a fun side mystery that ties in pretty well. I say it’s a positive because this author was actually able to detain me from figuring out the person responsible. I still figured it out but it took me most of the book to do it. I barely figured it out before the characters. Though the mystery was a little extreme and outlandish, it could happen. Maybe this author should pursue this genre instead.

The characters in this book lacked a certain depth that I never knew I needed. By the end of the book I still felt left out of the characters’ emotions and feelings and because of that, this book made me feel nothing. I couldn’t connect with any character no matter how big or small and that surprised me, I usually find at least one I can connect with. I sat there and read stone faced the entire book and to me that’s a huge disappointment.

However, possibly the most disappointing part of the story is when Bay wakes up in bed with a man and isn’t upset about that only about who she wakes up with. I think that’s when the book took a huge dive for me. To me a main character with that low of respect for her body, particularly in this genre, doesn’t endear me to her. It shocked me and I wondered how that made it past editing without some change or at least a comment. Maybe things are different in Australia. I thought I liked edgy, maybe I was wrong…

Overall, a disappointing book without a character connection between each other and the reader. A perfect book for those who love a more edgy book. I don’t recommend this for younger readers. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

*I received this book from the publisher through the bookcrash program in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are mine.*

Sixty Acres And A Bride

20120711-211801.jpg

Title: Sixty Acres and a Bride
Author: Regina Jennings
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 368
Released: February 1, 2012

——————————-

Young widow, Rosa Garner, and her mother-in-law move to the families ranch in Texas. Upon their arrival, they realize that they have three months to come up with the back taxes, totaling a hundred and sixty-six dollars. Facing eviction, Rosa tries everything possible to keep her husband’s family in this ranch. She soon starts falling in love with the countryside and the huge extended family she inherited from her husband.

Weston Garner feels it’s his duty to protect those around him, including the new addition, Rosa. Still grieving from the loss of his wife, he feels it’s the least he can do for his family. But Rosa stirs things in him that he thought long buried, things he wanted to keep buried. Unfortunately, the only thing Rosa seems to do is get into trouble, which puts them together alone. Which doesn’t help his heart.

As they traverse the growing feelings between them, the taxes loom over Rosa. She doesn’t want to lose the ranch, this land, and the man she could love and have love her. Weston, however, just feels more and more confused and scared at the relationship between him and Rosa and he doesn’t know how to to traverse this attraction without losing his heart in the process.

To what lengths will Rosa go to secure her future? Will Westin be able to put his past behind him and love again? Will Rosa be able to love and be loved back? Will her future be altered because of taxes or something else?
———————–

What Regina Jennings gave me with this book wasn’t what I expected. I was expecting a lackluster romance with a bare minimum emotional connection between the characters. What I got was completely different. I got a romance that was wonderfully unique and memorable along with an amazing emotional connection that was stunning. The author was amazing at blending the romance into the storyline and pulling the reader into the story. Making this book a pleasant surprise.

Though the romance isn’t a very passionate one, it’s one that stands out just the same. It touches your heart and you get to see a western version of the story of Ruth and Boaz, which is something that I always enjoy. One part of the romance that enjoyed, is the healing it brought to the main characters. Also, the reluctance they both show at falling in love again was something not all together unusual, but something that this author did well.

The detail that this author put into the characters and the Mexican culture was amazing. The details on the landscape were lacking, but not missed because of everything else going on in the story. I loved the dip into Rosa’s history and culture. It was nice to see what Mexico was like in the 19th century and what would happen if that culture meshed with ours.

This book wasn’t one of the best I’ve ever read, but for a debut novel, this was incredible. This author has a talent that needed to be shown. My question is, Why hasn’t she been published before now? My opinion about this book is high, others might not have the same high opinion. But my recommendation for this book is read it and find out for yourself.

This author totally dragged me into this story and amazed me with this story. I’m looking forward to reading any of her new books because this debut novel was fantastic. I can’t wait to see what she does next with her incredible talent and what new ideas she can come up with. This author needs to keep it up because she has a new fan.

Overall, a wonderful from a debut author. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a historical romance. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received this complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Love Finds You In Mackinac Island, Michigan

20120703-205438.jpg

Title: Love Finds You In Mackinac Island, Michigan
Author: Melanie Dobson
Series: Love Finds You
Publisher: Summerside
Published: July 1, 2012
Pages: 320

———————————

Elena Bissette’s family used to be wealthy, now they’re struggling to hold onto their livelihood and their home in Chicago. They also own a cottage on Mackinac Island in Michigan and are going to spend one last summer there before the place is officially up for sale. According to her mother, it’s their last chance to find Elena a wealthy suitor for her to marry. Even though, Elena is repulsed at the thought of marrying for money, her mother insists that Chester Darrington is perfect for her.

When Elena goes to secret hiding spot late one night she meets a handsome laborer named Chase. Chase is everything she wants in a husband. He’s kind, smart, and interested in the things she is. She and Chase begin to meet at her favorite spot, an old abandoned lighthouse, and she can’t help but begin to wonder what a life with him would consist of.

With her mother constantly trying to marry her off to the first wealthy man that comes knocking and society always finding something to gossip about, Elena feels like an actress in her own home and the lighthouse is the only place she can be herself and get closer to God. She now feels like she can be herself around Chase and can’t help but to start to fall in love with him, but he’s not rich, at least she doesn’t think so. Marriage to Chase wouldn’t help her family’s financial woes, but marriage to Chester would. She now must choose between her duty to help her family and her want to marry someone who loves her.

Will Elena choose love over obligation or will she cave under her mother’s will? If she does marry Chester will he view her like Chase views her or will she just be arm candy? If she marries Chase how will her family dig out from the debt that was procured?
—————————–

Elena’s story is something that I believe everybody can relate to at some point in their lives. No matter how much or why you feel trapped, the author’s portrayal of Elena’s story and her feelings resonate to the core. The fact that author makes the character relatable because of how well she portrays the struggle that Elena feels shows just how well this author can capture emotions and paste them on paper. Whether or not you’ve experienced the feeling of being trapped yet, this author has a gift for making you feel what the characters feel, all with a few words.

Another thing this author is great at is description. She took a tiny village that I had never heard and made me want to travel to a place I had no desire to go to before, Michigan, just so I can explore this island that’s lost in time. She vividly describes the island in such detail that I feel like I could describe it to you like I’ve been there myself. Also, the passion that Elena has for the little island adds to the intensity of how beautiful this island really is and adds to my desire of visiting this gorgeous island. This has got to be one of my favorite parts of this book.

One of the things that wasn’t one of my favorites about the book, was the romance. I did enjoy it, though. It’s a typical Christian genre romance, so it’s an innocent romance where the romance really doesn’t include a lot of intimate gestures like kissing, hugging, etc. These aren’t my favorite, however, I do believe that if done correctly can be some of my favorites, this is one of them. The way the author wrote the romance wasn’t particularly different than a lot of authors, but the thing that made this romance special was the way it was portrayed and blended into the story, making this a memorable one.

The faith aspect in this book was something that tends to be sorely overlooked and often barely mentioned in other books, this one isn’t filled a lot with mentions of faith, but definitely mentioned a lot more than a lot of other books I’ve read. It was an aspect that I missed more than I realized. It was refreshing to have a Christian author actually write about God, something that’s becoming harder and harder to find.

My opinions of this book when I first started it probably weren’t too high. I wasn’t expecting a terrible book, but neither was I expecting a book of the caliber that I got. Because I was slightly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, I’m now a fan of Melanie Dobson and look forward to trying to get my hands on any new books by her.

Overall, a great short read that will stay in your mind for a while. Perfect for fans of the Love Finds You series and those who love a good historical fiction. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received this book, through The Christian Manifesto, from the publisher in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*