Captives

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Title: Captives
Series: The Safe Lands
Author: Jill Williamson
Publisher: Zondervan
Published: April 2, 2013
Pages: 416

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Eighteen year old Levi has just returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, only to find his beloved village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many – including his fianc├ę, Jemma – taken captive. Now the leader of their village, Levi knows he can’t stay behind and forget about those he loves, so he’s on a mission to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means going into the infamous Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar brought the enforcers to his village and he knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away but he get helping the enforcers was necessary. Omar is tired of living off the land and clinging to what he believes is an outdated religion and he’s ready to change his way of life for the good. The Safe Lands have offered him power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams if he just tells them where his village is. Omar never expected the carnage that would ensue.

Meanwhile, Mason, Omar and Levi’s brother, has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save his people and possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. That is if he can manage to stay out of trouble and keep from falling for someone with the plague and destroying his chances of succeeding.

Can Levi rescue his people from the Safe Lands or will he fail and lose everything in the process? Will Omar realize what the Safe Lands really are or is the gilded cage enough to keep Omar satisfied? Will Mason be able to help his fellow villagers to freedom or will he get caught and get into serious trouble? Can Mason find a cure for the thin plague or will he have to choose between a girl he likes and freedom?
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With all the excitement over post-apocalyptic movies and books, I decided to see what all the attention was about and I chose Jill Williamson’s book to do that. Now I know what everyone loves and I must say that this type of book just skyrocketed up my list of favorite genres and I fully intend to find more books like it. This book was better than my expectations, and I had high ones, and completely surprised me with the intricacy of this book. Just when you think things will work out something happens to change that and it ended on a cliffhanger, guaranteeing that I’ll be back to see how all this works out.

Though this book is set in 2088, a year that is 74 years in the future, it doesn’t feel too far off or too extreme to really happen. In fact, the attitude of the Safe Landers isn’t that different from regular secular people today, it’s just a bit more extreme. With e-cigarettes and a party/casual sex attitude out world is well on its way to becoming the fictional Safe Lands. Jill Williamson’s realistic, just extreme, take on us in the future is the most fascinating part of this book and definitely makes you think and question. I think she did an amazing job if her goal was to make teens question their life choices and where their future’s headed.

Tense and nerve-wracking scenes are the pinnacle of this book and it definitely gets your emotions involved. You want the Glenrock residents to escape before impregnation but you also want Mason to find a cure, not because of all the Safe Landers but just one. It gave me conflicting feelings on top of the taut nerves and nervous stomach, leaving me absolutely involved and emotionally invested in the outcome of this book. Very rarely do I feel this so I’m incredibly pleased it was with this one.

Every character has different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to see them all. However, I do look forward to seeing them in the next books in this series. From what I was able to see, I picked a few favorite characters: Mason, Levi, and Shaylinn. I liked Mason because of his willpower and strength in tough situations, Levi because he’d do anything for Jemma, and Shaylinn because I can relate to her and her body image issues. I think no matter the person, you can relate to this book.

Jill Williamson is a new author for me but she has amazed me with Captives and I fully intend to read the next books in the series and even see what else she has come up with before this one. She’s very good at making a book a teenager, both boy or girl, will love. She even managed to do it without vampires or werewolves! I highly recommend this book for any teen and even some adults.

Overall, I really liked this book. It’s perfect for people who love dystopian novels or teen sci-fi. This book is perfect for teens, adults and maybe mature tweens. I give this book a five out of five.

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

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Sunflower Summer

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Title: Sunflower Summer
Series: Postcards From Misty Harbor Inn
Author: Evangeline Kelley
Publisher: Guideposts
Published: April 1, 2013
Pages: 272

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Misty Harbor Inn has officially opened and the Marris sisters face some tough decisions. Gracie Gold, the middle Marris sister, must decide if she wants to stay in Nantucket year-round or stay here only in the summer time. She struggles with being needed and having something to do, but it seems like she’s needed more than she knows. Especially in being a listening ear to boarders.

Caroline Marris also has to make some tough choices. After denying a proposal from her longtime friend, she is devastated to find he won’t be able to visit her this summer. Thinking he’s avoiding her because of her refusal to his marriage proposal, Caroline begins to question her decision and her opinion of her readiness. But she feels it might be too late to remedy what she possibly did to her friendship.

Sam Carter is blooming in the Misty Harbor Inn. She is baking and she even discovers a secret passageway in the back of a guest room closet. It contains items belonging to the mysterious previous owner, who disappeared suddenly and without a trace. Keeping herself busy by cooking, baking, and a new mystery on her hands Sam is content, happy even, to be a hotel owner.

Can Caroline decide whether she wants to be married or not? Will Gracie decide whether to live on the island permanently or will she decide to stay part-time only? Will the Marris sisters be able to solve the mystery of the widow who lived here before or will it remain a local mystery forever? Will their in be a success or will they fail?
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This book’s cover and plot was what first attracted me to this book, but the content bored me a little. It took about a quarter of the book to really pick up and that pick up didn’t really last that long. I liked the aspects of running the inn and parts of the mystery of the missing widow, but those didn’t really hold my attention for long. I think it might be because it’s hard for me to relate to the characters.

The characters were a bit older than me and for me it’s difficult to relate to a character that’s a lot older than me. Some of their attitudes were fun and young and easy to imagine in real life, but I just wasn’t able to connect with them. Maybe it was the lack of real character development or maybe it was me. I don’t quite know why I wasn’t able to connect with them, because I have fallen in love with older characters.

The storyline was a but jumbled to me. I think the book had too many side stories and not enough of a main story. It seemed a bit ambitious to start a storyline for each sister in one book, add on top of that the visitors’ story-lines and the mystery, it just seemed like too much for me. I don’t quite know what the main storyline was in this novel but it wasn’t big enough for me to detect it.

The one thing I did really enjoy about this book was the mystery about the missing widow. Even that kind of disappointed me. It started out with a lot of potential but ended on a flat note. Most of the leads end in dead ends and leaves everyone disappointed. I would’ve loved to have found out what happened to the lady but I think it’s being stretched to the third book. Oh well.

This author is actually a pen name for a group of four authors who collaborate together. I didn’t care much for their collaboration but I don’t think I was their target audience. A shame because I really wanted this on to be amazing. Though I don’t really recommend this one, I’m sure there is someone who is more the target audience that will recommend it. It just wasn’t for me.

Overall, this book wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m sure there are some people more the target audience who loved it. I think this is perfect for older people who want a book that isn’t a romance. I don’t recommend this for anyone else other than middle-aged or older people. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

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

Love At Any Cost

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Title: Love At Any Cost
Series: The Heart Of San Francisco
Author: Julie Lessman
Publisher: Revell
Published: April 15, 2013
Pages: 416

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Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without fortune who just got jilted by a fortune hunter. Because of that she just as soon hogtie a man than look at him and she hopes to stay as far away from men as possible while she spends the summer with her cousins in San Francisco. She hopes her wealthy family will be able to keep her kind off her broken heart and distract her from any men. Little does she know that one man will do anything to turn her head.

Jamie McKenna has spent his life in the slums of San Francisco and he wants to bring his mom out of poverty and pay for a much needed surgery for his sister. But to do that he has to marry well. Jamie will do anything to do better for his family even give up love, but when he meets the captivating Cassidy he starts to believe that maybe he can get love and money.

Cassidy refuses to give her heart up to another handsome man, but when she loses her heart she must make the choice to take the leap or lose what could possibly be the love of her life. When Jamie finds out that Cassidy is broke he must make a choice between love or money. As they fall harder they have to combat fears and pasts and past mistakes to try and find that love that neither thought was possible.

Can Cassidy trust Jamie or will she get hurt again? Will Jamie pick Cassidy or money? Is he willing to give up love for a life filled with shallow relationships and money? Will Cassidy get her heart broken again or will she find the love she always wanted but could never find? Is love enough to conquer money and stubbornness? Can Cassidy show Jamie that God’s love covers all and will give him what he needs with less effort on his part?
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This is Julie Lessman’s seventh novel and the seventh novel of hers that I’ve read. After saying goodbye to the O’Connors, I knew that her next was going to be a change, but thankfully she made the transition easier by making each character lovable and by making me excited for who will be next to fall in love. This author has another hit on her hands and she has grown into her niche even more than her previous. Though I miss the O’Connors, I think I’ll love this new Irish family as much as the ever lovable O’Connors.

The romance in this novel is, I think, the perfect mixture of passion and purity. Her style has mellowed out a bit from her first trilogy, in a good way, you no longer blush while reading these books but you still get an understated heat that makes girls dream. I loved the story of Cassidy and Jamie. I liked how Cassie fell in love with the man she wanted to avoid and I loved the decision Jamie made for love. This one made me dream of a dark haired Irish man with stubbornness and passion abundantly.

The storyline of this one is top-notch. It’s not really unique yet it is somehow. I liked how the story progressed, though I do feel like some important issues were passed over a little too quickly, overall I loved this storyline and how she hated him then fell in love with him. The twists have gotten better, story development has gotten better, her passionate stories has gotten better. Everything has gotten better. In fact, for years A Passion Most Pure has been my favorite, but this one may have dethroned that one. GASP. This author should be extremely proud of this one.

The characters are really well developed. Each one has their own personality and I can’t wait to see each one paired up with someone who matches them perfectly. Who will be next? I hope it’s Allison or Blake. They seem like their story will be the most dramatic. This might sound crazy but I actually hope to see Lydia again. I feel sorry for her, she grasps for love so hard that she hurts people around her. Call me crazy but, dare I say it, Bram would be a great match for her. That’s just me.

I have been behind Julie since her first book was published. She captured me with the O’Connor family and now she, I, and any other fan of her novels is going through a new faze or chapter, if you will and I’m extremely excited to continue on with her. She still holds the position as my favorite romance author and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. This author and any of her novels come highly recommended.

Overall, another fantastic hit from a fantastic author. This book is perfect for romance lovers of all shapes and sizes. I’d probably keep this away from kids and maybe teens but adults, have at it. I give this book a five out of five.

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

The Dance

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Title: The Dance
Series: The Restoration Series
Authors: Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
Publisher: Revell
Published: April 1, 2013
Pages: 352

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Marilyn Anderson is tired of playing the role of perfect wife. After 27 years of marriage, Marilyn’s marriage has gotten as cold as the arctic and all appearances are just that. She has everything she could ever want – a beautiful home in an upscale neighborhood, the financial freedom to be a stay at home mom, and an enviable collection of stuff. But the one thing she desires she doesn’t have, love. She’s tired of trying to connect with a man that doesn’t want to, so she moves out to collect herself and see what happens.

Jim Anderson is a successful businessman that gives his wife everything she needs, except love and attention. With him so busy with his real state business, he doesn’t even realize anything’s wrong let alone listen to his wife when she drops many hints for him to help her fix their marriage. When Marilyn leaves, Jim is shocked and furious. He has to sort through the past to fin what went wrong and to get his wife to talk to him.

As Marilyn rediscovers herself amidst a new job, a new roommate, and dance lessons, she begins to see what she almost gave up. Meanwhile, Jim is being illuminated as to what went wrong in his marriage and how he can fix it. Jim is doing the unthinkable to save his marriage but Marilyn still doesn’t want to talk to him and definitely doesn’t want to see him. He has to find a way to show her he’s changed.

Will Marilyn go back to Jim or will she like her newfound freedom too much to go back? Will Jim be able to change enough to get his wife back or will his stubbornness ruin his marriage? Will Jim win back his wife and do something he never did or will he decide that his wife isn’t worth what he took away? Will Marilyn’s bitterness of her rocky marriage destroy any chance of repair?
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I’ve read fiction by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley before and loved Dan Walsh’s books and Gary Smalley’s co-author-ship with Karen Kingsbury and those memories were what drove me to review this book. I may have erred in that decision. This book is fantastic and one of the best that I’ve read like this, but like the others I feel like this book is beyond my reach. I’m not married nor even in a relationship right now, so this book, though probably great for the future, isn’t written for me and isn’t on my list of favorites.

The overall storyline is fantastic and with two veteran writers behind it, it can’t help but be perfectly executed. The story progressed very well and I loved how the story ended. I loved how Jim changed and what he did to win Marilyn back. Though I don’t wish bad times on my future marriage, this is what I want my future husband to do if it ever got that bad. Gary Smalley and Dan Walsh crafted the perfect marriage fiction book with this one.

The subject of this book is something every marriage needs and possibly will go through. The potential end. Though I’m not married and probably won’t be for another five to ten years, I learned a lot and I learned about core fears. I also learned that a core fear of mine is the fear of failure. I don’t want to fail at anything and the idea makes me extremely scared. I think that this book married, engaged, or single can help you and show you what makes a good relationship.

Though this book wasn’t really for me, I can appreciate the subject and the story. The smoothness and progressiveness of the story alone makes this a fantastic book, but add on some teaching for anyone who is or will be married and you get a fantastic book. These authors work really well together and I look forward to reading more from them as a team and singularly.

These two work awesome together. Dan Walsh is an amazing storyteller and Gary Smalley is one of the best marriage counselors out there. As a team they created the best fiction book about marriage I’ve ever read and recently I’ve read quite a few. Like I said, though this book wasn’t for me, it was still a fantastic story and that alone makes this a great book. I fully intend to read the rest of this series.

Overall, a great story just for pure enjoyment by also a great book to help with a marriage. Though the subject and audience is a little bit older than me, I loved the story and the hope it gives me. I highly recommend this book to readers who like their story to have substance. This book really isn’t best for anyone than adults, but maybe this book could be used to show teens to not give up just because it gets tough. I give this book a four out of five.

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

Harvest Of Rubies

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Title: Harvest Of Rubies
Author: Tessa Afshar
Publisher: Moody Books
Published: April 20, 2012
Pages: 384

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Sarah, cousin of the prophet Nehemiah, has always had a gift for languages and scrolls. When she’s offered a position as the queen’s scribe, she accepts but she never imagines how it will alter her future. She was always the quiet girl that no one understood. She is past the age of marriage and has had little interest for her, but when the queen gives her a husband her plans of being single for life is shattered.

Darius Pasargadae is a wealthy admires aristocrat that will only marry a Jewish girl. When his father finds out, he rushes to find a girl suitable. The girl that’s picked for him is quiet and seems to can’t stand him. Not to mention she embarrassed him in front of their entire wedding party. Because of this, he doesn’t trust her or really like her. But he’s drawn to her nonetheless and he doesn’t know why.

The more time that passes in their marriage, the more their drawn to each other, but trust issues and an independent streak could be the end of any hope of a happy marriage. Sarah doesn’t like him as he doesn’t trust her, but maybe trust and love can come with time and knowledge of each other. Maybe just maybe this marriage of convenience can become a marriage of love and maybe a marriage that got off on the wrong foot can turn into a happy one after all.

Can Darius learn to trust Sarah and her mistake was just that or will he forever hold it against her? Can Sarah learn that Darius isn’t a bad guy and is very caring or will she forever think he’ll be a bad guy? Can the past mistakes be put aside for a happy marriage or will it be an elephant in the room for a while? Are past mistakes too much for a happy future or will forgiveness and love conquer the mistakes?
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I’ve had the pleasure of reading A Pearl In The Sand by this author and it was one of the best debut novels I’ve read before or since. Naturally, when this book was offered to me, I jumped at the chance to review it. However, this book was a but of a let down. Though, the story was great, there was some aspects that I feel took away from this story. I love this author, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this book.

This romance was disappointing and one of the reasons why this wasn’t my favorite book. I found the conclusion of the book to be a huge letdown and quite disappointing. Though I appreciated the author’s attempt at uniqueness, I would’ve preferred her stick to the classical route with this one, but her development of the romance was good and kept me reasonably interested.

The characters were another flaw if this book. Because the story was told in first person and only from the point of view of Sarah, Darius’s character lacked depth and, for the majority of the story, came off as a complete jerk, though he swears to the opposite. I would’ve loved to have had it from Darius’s point of view to give him some depth and given the reader the opportunity to see why he was the way he was and how he hanged during the course of the book. The only one that I really got to see change was Sarah and I would’ve loved to have added to that.

However, the storyline was great. I loved the premise and execution and because I didn’t love the romance I liked how the story involved more of the change Sarah went through and a touch of suspense then the actual romance. I liked the suspense-like quality the author infused in and I loved the progression this story took. The story wasn’t too slow or too fast it was just right.

This book wasn’t my favorite ever, but I liked the storyline and the author’s attempt at uniqueness. I didn’t like the first-person viewpoint, the fact that I didn’t get to really “know” Darius, or the overall romance. I will read the sequel to this one and everything else I can from this author but this book will be just another book on the “okay” list.

This author captured me with Rahab’s story and her’s, but this book wasn’t a hit with me. I love her work and encourage to keep going. She still has a fan in me but not in this book. I hope her next, the sequel to this one, will be better. I look forward to reading it and seeing what will happen between Darius and Sarah. Maybe just maybe I’ll get the ending I want for these two. This author is recommended this book only for those who want different.

Overall, not my favorite, but the storyline developed well. This book is perfect for those who like different endings to their romances or who like books set in biblical times. Not a great book for your children but great for adults and maybe late teens. I give this book a three out of five.

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