Forsaken Dreams

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Title: Forsaken Dreams
Series: Escape To Paradise
Author: MaryLu Tyndall
Publisher: Barbour
Published: March 1, 2013
Pages: 320

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Eliza Crawford can barely remember the days of her youth spent in opulence and comfort at Georgian home. She can’t help but wonder how her life would’ve been different had she not met her late husband, Stanton Watts, a general in the Northern army. She’s a war widow with no home. The South calls her a traitor and the North rejects her. Naturally she’s desperate to keep her marriage a secret and hopefully start over in Brazil, but the odds of keeping her secret completely are slim with a boatload of people from the same place.

Colonel Blake Wallace has seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime. Slapped with defeat and loss, he’s weary and disillusioned about his country. With his entire family slaughtered by the North and his name appearing on a list of wanted officers for war crimes, Blake sees no choice but to leave permanently. So he assembles a group of southerner who long to escape the horrors of war and start over in a foreign land called Brazil.

Eliza and Blake feel an incredible draw to each other, but when secrets are revealed it seems unlikely that they will be able to broach the past and make a life with each other. With un-forgiveness abounding aboard, Eliza must try and survive the hatred and hostility angled her way. Blake must conquer his own feelings of anger toward a woman that captivates him and makes him want to forgive and start a life, if only his head would agree with his heart.

Can Eliza keep her secret or will it spill out and cost her everything? Will Blake be able to forgive Eliza for her mistakes and the decisions of her late husband or will he be anger and bitter towards her and force her away? Will love survive the hostilities and bitterness left over from war or will it be stomped under the feet of anger and pain? Can turn Eliza’s bad choices into something good or will she just pile on more heartbreak?
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MaryLu Tyndall captured me from the very beginning and she has a very good track record for engaging me and keeping me interested. This book is no different and it brought me great joy to see that she had brought back elements of her first books that I loved, particularly the boat fights and and life at sea aspects. Though this book is no pirate romance, it was definitely one of my favorites and I absolutely must finish the series.

When I first started reading this book, I got captured by the somewhat cowardly actions of the southern people. My opinions changed somewhat about the southerners the more I read, because the more the book progressed and the more light that was shed on the North’s actions made me question whether I would’ve stayed or left with them. I imagine that it was a difficult decision for them to make and I appreciated the different viewpoint of the war and a different perspective of what really happened. It was a new piece of history that I never really learned.

The romance in this book is a bit choppy and full of anger and un-forgiveness. This a different approach for this author and though I didn’t particularly love it, neither did I hate it. I think it was a good choice for the story I just wish there had been more tender moments between Eliza and Blake. The little tender moments there was was familiar, exciting, and sweet. Though this romance wasn’t quite what I expected, I still found it oddly sweet and definitely astounding because it showed the power of God.

The storyline of this book varies between slow-paced and fast-paced. There are quite a few fast-paced or intriguing scenes that tide you over until the next one. Despite the fluctuating pace, I felt that the slow-paced scenes for perfectly into the novel and didn’t detract from the story at all, in fact it improved on it. There are also some unexplainable mishaps and I hope that those get explained soon, even tough I have an idea as to who is causing the disturbances. Overall, I loved this storyline and can’t wait to meet up with these characters again.

MaryLu Tyndall has been a favorite of mine for years after her pirate romance series and ever since then, I’ve tried relentlessly to get every book I can and have only missed a couple. This new book by her and done nothing to lower her esteemed status in my mind, in fact it probably solidified it more. I highly recommend this author and any of her wide array of novels.

Overall, this book is very good despite the less than awesome romance and fluctuating pace. This book is perfect for fans of the author and lovers of historical romance. This book is definitely best left for the adults. I wouldn’t even recommend this to teens. I give this book a four out of five.

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

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Deadly Devotion

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Title: Deadly Devotion
Series: Port Aster Secrets
Author: Sandra Orchard
Publisher: Revell
Published: June 1, 2013
Pages: 384

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When Kate Adams friend and research mentor, Daisy Leacock, is suddenly found dead from poisoning, she is devastated and angry. Kate knows her mentor’s death wasn’t a suicide or a careless accident. Both Kate and Daisy work with plants all day long and they were working on an herbal medicine that would treat depression. Knowing this, Kate is determined to unearth the truth about what happened to the woman who changed her life.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker is finding that it’s harder to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster than he thought it would be. Not everyone approves of his new position as a detective for the local police force even though the police chief, his old buddy, gave him the job. He’s just trying to sty out of the spotlight, but when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation into her friend’s death, he knows he could easily be fired. He’s willing to help her even though he thinks she has something to hide.

The more Kate and Tom dig into the death of Daisy the more secrets they uncover about their seemingly perfect and quiet town, proving that no one is as they seem. With a stack of suspects and a killer on the loose both are very aware of the fact that this killer might just try and kill against I keep their secret a secret. Bad memories on both side keep them from falling in love but being thrust together by danger starts to rip apart their boundaries and open doors they never thought possible. They just have to catch a killer first.

Will Kate be able to prove that her friend was murdered or will she be forced to accept that her friend took her own life? Will Tom find out what Kate is hiding or will it plague him forever? When Tom finds out how will he react? Will the killer try and keep their secret safe or will Kate and Tom be safe from an attempt on their lives? Will Kate and Tom’s budding relationship make it or will the pressure of keeping each other safe break apart their fragile relationship?
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The cover on this book drew my eye and the description captured my attention. I was hoping that when I finished this book that I would be able to say that the contents lived up to the cover and I can assuredly say that it did. I actually loved this one and the fact that I was never really ever to fully figure who was the killer made the book an absolute joy to read. I can’t wait for the next one!

The storyline of this story is very intricate yet pretty simple to follow. I got so enraptured by this storyline that I found the world around me completely fading away and the only thing left was me and book filled with so much intrigue it practically spilled out of the pages. I never felt left behind or like the wording was choppy and I certainly never felt bored with this one. This author has a gift for storytelling and she uses her full gift in this one and I loved it.

My favorite character by far is Kate. She’s tough, stubborn and the complete polar opposite to a damsel in distress. Though some of her choices in this book were questionable, I can’t say that they didn’t fit her nor could I say that I wouldn’t do the same thing. Her character struck a chord with me and hooked me from the instant she marched into the police station with all that red-headed anger and demanded her friends’s case be reopened. Her character is a perfect mixture between stubborn, spunky, and vulnerable. Her character completely made the book and I can’t wait to see more of her.

The suspense was actually a mystery to me. With so many suspects and so many reasons why each would’ve done it, I had a hard time figuring out who killed Daisy. The suspense was intricately woven together and each suspect’s secrets exposed, making you really realize that people really aren’t always who they seem. The suspense had a nice steady flow and never really let up for the majority of the story making this an enjoyment to read.

I’ve only read one book by Sandra Orchard before and it was a Love Inspired novella and I don’t think it properly portrayed her talent for suspense and storytelling. I am literally waiting on pins and needles to read the next book in this series and have the rest of the small loose ends tied up. This novel was fantastic and I would definitely recommend it to anyone regardless of what they normally read.

Overall, fantastic. I think I might have found a new favorite author. I have no complaints about this one. I highly recommend this one to anyone who likes suspense novels. This book is best left for adults and mature teens. I give this book a five out of five.

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

Mother Of Pearl

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Title: Mother of Pearl
Author: Kellie Coates Gilbert
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Published: September 1, 2012
Pages: 304

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Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as a high school counselor in a close-knit community. Without warning, life as Barrie has known will be turned upside down when her daughter is betrayed and falls apart. Disaster strikes and now the secrets her daughter harbored don’t have any chance of being revealed. At least not by her.

Now this mother must conquer grief and try and pick up the pieces of her life. With a husband and another child to care for, she knows she can’t grieve forever, but questions how she can move on when all she wants to do is grieve the loss of part of her. Her husband doesn’t understand and her son doesn’t feel loved, but she doesn’t feel like keeping things together.

When she starts putting together the pieces of the tragedy that befell their family, she finds a horrifying secret that the beloved football coach has been harboring for years. She now must decide what to do with this shocking discovery. She needs to decide if she’ll follow her husband and mother’s advice, ignore it, or wether she’ll do what her lawyer wants her to do, fight.

Will Barrie move on from the grief that has been slammed into her world or will she fall apart as we’ll as her family? Will she fight or will she ignore the secrets she’s revealed? Will Barrie lose everything because of her grief and unwillingness to let things go or will her husband stand behind her even tough he doesn’t agree with her?
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Being a debut author I had nothing to really go on other than cover, both back and front. Sometimes you find a diamond in the rough and sometimes you find a book that needs a lot of work. Unfortunately, this book was the latter. It was a good concept but just wasn’t executed in a way that felt put together. It was a book that just felt disjointed and, at times, unbelievable.

Like I said above, this was an awesome concept it just wasn’t very fluid or fully believable. I felt that the grief element was accurate but Barrie’s husband’s reaction to her grief and search for the truth about her daughter was unrealistic and actually at times down-right mean. I don’t know, I’ve never experienced the loss of a child so I don’t know if this is how people really act, it just felt off to me.

The storyline felt choppy to me as well. Certain issues that were a huge part of the storyline were resolved but not in front of the reader. I felt left out of the story and I was left lurching by the sudden changes in plot and the character’s perspective. Not to mention the book was read in first person which in this case made it extremely difficult to connect with. I felt like I had to force myself to finish this book and that’s a feeling I hate.

The faith in this book is weird too. The friend that’s a Christian in this book is like a Stepford wife and it felt like the author was trying to say that Christians live like her, which isn’t true. The family goes to church but you don’t get to see the transformation to Christ or anything. It felt like the author kind of forgot that her book had to have some faith in it and so she just added it in. It was definitely strange.

This author is brand new to writing and I hope that she improves in her writing. I don’t know if I’ll pick up another of her books for some time. I do intend to watch her though. Who knows, I might just pick up another of her books later. I think she’ll do well in her drama genre if she improves and makes her stories more fluid.

Overall, this book was the typical debut book. Nothing too extraordinary but nothing too terrible either. I recommend this for someone who wants a different story on a topic most people don’t know happens in school. 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.*

Prophet

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Title: Prophet
Series: Books of the Infinite
Author: R. J. Larson
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: April 1, 2012
Pages: 352

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Seventeen year old Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She has a bad temper, is undignified, and she would be the first female prophet to come out of Parne. Worst of all, as the saying goes, a grey haired prophet has failed. All of the prophets before her have died young and she won’t be the one to break that tradition. But she can’t live without His presence.

She’s determined to follow the Infinite’s voice and commands, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent away from her family into a nation torn apart by war. Her mission is to bring the Infinite’s word to their polytheistic life and hopefully alter a horrendous prophecy. If only it were that easy. The Isthaardians want nothing to do with her or the Infinite. They mock and try to murder her at every turn, making her feel like a failure.

Kien Lantec is a young Traceland ambassador sent to bring peace, but now he’s determined to bring justice to his oppressed people. He fights the king at every turn and lands himself in prison, where he meets the beautiful prophet, Ela. As they form an unlikely partnership, they begin feel things that threaten to unbalance their lives for good. As her feelings grow Ela must somehow determine a balance between her heart and the Infinite.

Will Ela succeed with her job as prophet or will she live to have gray hair? Will Kien convince Ela that they can be together or will Ela determine that only the Infinite has her time? Will the king listen to the prodding of the Infinite or will his whole kingdom crumble because of his stubbornness? Will Ela die young or die an old woman?
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This was my first real jaunt into the fantasy genre and I didn’t know what to expect or how I was going to feel after I flipped the last page. However, I have an opinion now. I feel like this book was the perfect transition from reality to fantasy. It had just enough realism to make it believable, but also just enough fantasy to remind you that it hasn’t nor ever will exist. If this is how fantasy is, then I’m definitely a fan. This book also got me out of my shell and makes me want to read other fantasy books both this author’s and others.

I think the thing I liked most about this book and kind of wish we had in reality was the destroyers. Massive war horses that are extremely loyal to the point of being ridiculous. In fact, a lot of the humor in the book comes from Pet/Scythe and him tearing up stuff to get to his master. These destroyers are more like a dog or cat as far as expression goes, but is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to war, definitely making this book a lot better because of it.

I think another reason why I loved this book so much was because of how similar to the biblical fiction I love. It seemed like it was close to Bible stories we all know and love as well as being similar in timeframe. I also loved the female prophet angle, it’s not one you see very often, but it’s one that I enjoyed. I don’t know if I would enjoy it as much as I did if it wasn’t so rare but because it is, I felt it was yet another aspect that I could love about this book.

The author also did something completely perfect for this book, created a romance that didn’t get completed in this novel. She wanted to add a little romance, but she didn’t want to force it into the story. So she made an open ended romance that fit so perfectly I have no complaints. Even with the lack of romance, she captured my heart and made me content with what she gave. It’s a sweet innocent romance that made me want more.

The descriptions in this book are a must. It made me feel like this area was real and I was walking alongside Ela at every turn. Also, the descriptions of the dangerous, deadly animals in this world made me a little thankful that the monsters in this story weren’t walking the earth with us. This author knew how to describe without over describing and she described the battle scenes all while leaving out the majority of the battle scenes, a detail most will be ecstatic over.

This genre is a first for me and the author, but if this book is any indication, both I and the author will be back with more fantasy. Me because I found a new genre that satisfies my curiosity and the author because I believe that she has truly found her niche. For a debut in a new genre, this book is the epitome of fantastic. It’s perfect for lovers of biblical fiction and fantasy fiction. I can’t wait to read more in this series and from this author. The author has opened a door into this genre that can’t be closed, so stay tuned for more fantasy reviews in the near future.

Overall, a great fantasy book for beginners in the genre or people who have been reading in it for years. It’s perfect for teens and Tweens alike an parents can rest easy that it isn’t to ridiculous like some of the fantasy books can get. I give this book a four and a half out of five.

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

Diagnosis Death

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Title: Diagnosis Death
Author: Richard Mabry
Series: Prescription For Trouble
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Pages: 288
Released: April 27, 2011

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After her husband dies, Alena Gardner’s main concern is to get away from the hospital that she sat in for months. If only the calls would stop. Calls come every Tuesday night at midnight and remind her of her husbands death.

With her residency almost up and another person who dies, same circumstances, same illness. Now a cloud of doubt is hovering over her and her ability to practice. When she gets a job practicing with Cathy Sewell, she hopes this is the move she needs to get rid of all the memories and her midnight caller.

When that doesn’t work, will she be able to catch the person, or will her career end before it ever really get started?
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Having read a book by Richard Mabry before, I was prepared for how this book was going to go. I was looking forward to reading a medical drama suspense and wasn’t disappointed about what I got. Richard Mabry’s books just get better and better with experience. He writes a great medical suspense that really grips readers.

Mr. Mabry writes a book that shows how difficult and demanding a doctor’s job really is and how long they work. He also writes a realistic and believable and one where it’s near impossible to guess “whodunit”. That’s right, I didn’t guess it. The author makes the smart decision of little to no hints or clues as to who is doing this to our main character. Leaving you as much in the dark as the character is.

There’s also a touch of romance in this book. Just enough to get a taste but not so much as to distract from the main story line or to override the organized feeling that this book has. When I say a touch I mean about five percent of the book, at the absolute most, was romance. Normally I’d be disappointed that that was all that there was, but in this case, I actually feel like it was unnecessary. The author could’ve scrapped the whole romance idea and it wouldn’t have changed the story line or the quality of the book.

Because this author is a doctor himself, his novels are realistic and accurate in their portrayal of doctors and I learn something new every time I read one of his novels. It’s nice to learn all you can about your choice of career, or something similar to it. This author is truly a unique one.

Overall, this book is unique and perfect for people who love medical suspense or medical dramas. I give this book a three and a half out of five.

I received this complimentary galley from the publisher and Net Galley specifically for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.