Review: A Match for Melissa

A Match for Melissa A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karsten does an excellent job with the historical part of this story. Great attention to detail. Her descriptions bring the era alive.

Characters are very well developed. Quite a good element of faith, and Melissa is adamant of marry in the faith. I found it hard to imagine that with that strong will to marry in the faith that she didn't see through several of the characters. Nonetheless, she perseveres and wins her man. Of course.

I found each page of the story to move the story along... none of the missteps that newbies generally make. She had an excellent editor to go along with her excellent story telling.

This is a keeper.

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Review: Crossing the Lines

Crossing the Lines Crossing the Lines by Sulari Gentill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is an excellent venture into the mind of a writer and mind of a character interacting. I've actually had conversations with my characters before... but not like this!

Excellent writing, but not so great an ending. I felt very deflated and disappointed. I guess, if I had read any other of her books, I might have been prepared for this kind of ending. This was my first read of hers and I completely and enthusiastically enjoyed it all the way to the last chapter, maybe last 2 chapters.

The characters are so well developed the transitions seem to be transparent. Head hopping is not really noticeable. That is the mark of an excellent writer. Description is not overpowering, but so deft that the authors places you right in the scene. You're sitting on the sofa, or the in the garden, or in the car, or at the bistro drinking coffee while they story moves around you. In fact it gets to the point where you aren't sure who is the real deal and who is the character.

The plot is quite intriguing, and the murder really isn't a murder--or is it really murder? You'll have to read to find out.

This one is a keeper.

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Review: Loving Luther

Loving Luther Loving Luther by Allison Pittman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her.

Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows—a choice more practical than pious—but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?

Well, we find out. I was amazed at how closely Pittman stayed to the historical facts, but filled in with era-accurate story. You really get to know Katharina and her friends in the convent, and your heart breaks with how these children are raised in the Catholic church.

The characters are very 3 dimensional and so well crafted that you wonder how they'll handle what comes next after you turn out the lights. Just wonderful writing. You experience the intrigue and questions, worship by rote, and the courage and fear the nuns feel as they read the treasured words from the Bible in their own language and not Latin. You tremble at the thought of stepping outside a comfort zone that is not so comfortable in the cold, hard halls of the convent.

Descriptions bring in all the senses. You feel the terrible cold to your bones, the bland food depresses appetite, the rough fabric scratches the skin, the needle pricks your finger as secret pockets are made.

Excellent detail in story. The love interest of Katharina [spoiler]who rejects her because he was a weak person ruled by his mother and whom she does not end up with[/spoiler] gives a poignant reason for her attraction and true love for Martin Luther.

If you do not know Katharina's and Martin's story, this would be an excellent book to read. Pittman does not delve into the reformation movement except for the intrigue in smuggling in the questions and Bible verses for the nuns to ponder. It's all told from Katharina's point of view, so we don't agonize with Luther over his reformation awakening or his excommunication. This is a tender and poignant story about a little girl growing up in a convent and a religion that could not answer her questions. It's how the answers she found gave her a maturity in God to be a truly helpful helpmeet for Martin Luther.


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Review: On Love's Gentle Shore

On Love's Gentle Shore On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am usually the odd one out when it comes to reviewing books. I do have very high standards, and this one falls short. But I do have a very good reason.

After 15 years Natalie and Justin are just as hopping mad at each other as if they had separated the day before. Fifteen years after my divorce from a man that cheated on me with 2 prostitutes not once but twice, I had forgiven him and we were able to be friends. Mostly because we shared 2 daughters and grandchildren, but the searing anger was gone. I knew that God said to forgive. Period. I had to work hard at forgiving, but I finally did.

These 2 lovebirds were supposed to be Christian and yet had harbored vicious anger forever. I wonder if Johnson knows just how long 15 years really is. I wonder if she even thought about God's command to forgive.

I got fed up with the spitting venom, which was not funny nor was it a particularly pleasant reading experience. Having lived for 22 years in a marriage with that kind of vicious bickering and venom, it took me a little while to understand why I had such an aversion to this story. It was the anger. And believe me, Johnson does an excellent job in describing that.

So don't take my observations to much to heart. I can imagine a really cold simmering anger after 15 years, but not this hot, raging vitriol. It didn't make sense.

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Review: Heart on the Line

Heart on the Line Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an exceptional read! I loved it.

Karen Witemeyer has written a tale with just the right mix of romance, intrigue, mystery, and humor in a truly good story. I did read the 1st book in the series, but it didn't matter because these characters were developed on their own merits, not building on the characters in the first book. This is a good stand alone story.

Karen does a great job of developing her characters. They are intriguing and fun examples of the era. She did her research well, and it was good research. In the story that revolves around telegraph operators, the times of late 19th century shine in the idiosyncrasies of life in a town full of women and one man (except for the supply delivery fellow). She resists the temptation for worn jokes, but does poke a little fun at the culture of the day, all within the era--no modernisms, thank goodness.

The pace is fast, but not so fast you whiz by the romance. She makes good use of the anticipation factor so that when the love interests finally recognize their love, it's very satisfying.

You'll get to know all different types of women, and none are caricatures--it feels like they are real and could be your best friends if only you lived way back then.

Five of five stars and this book is worth every penny. It's a keeper for sure.

Thank you NetGalley and Bethany House for my eBook copy to review in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Bread of Angels

Bread of Angels Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a good fiction read, but biblical details are not exactly correct. Let me get that off my chest first. It would help her story a lot if Tessa had studied a good bit of Jewish tradition and factored that in. The reason the women gathered at the riverside to worship, pray, and teaching (the Greek word means oratory), is because it takes 10 Jewish men to create a synagogue. There weren't 10 Jewish men to do that. Paul, in all his journeys, sought out the synagogue first to preach, and then took the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Philippi was a Roman outpost/colony, but it had myriad peoples there.

And it had Jewish women who worshiped God, not Roman idols, and they came together on the Sabbath day, not just any day of the week. This is where Paul went first. While it is possible that Lydia was a proselyte, I think she was actually Jewish because of the way the text reads.

Except for the few other biblical inaccuracies, the book was finely researched and well depicted. I enjoyed the fictional depiction of Lydia especially the way Tessa described life in Thyatria with the dominant Romans and Roman customs. I also appreciate the way Tessa manipulated it so a Roman woman could own and run businesses. Sadly, that isn't how it was. Female babies were often given the name Oncia (born 1st), Secundia (second born), Tertia (as you've guessed, third born) and so on down the line. Female babies were often put outside the gates of Roman cities as unwanted because they were not regarded as worthy. Although Roman women had a lot more freedom and worth than did Greek women who were considered property and were never allowed in public, in their own dining rooms when male guests were there, nor anywhere that they could be seen by any male person other than papa or husband.

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Review: Whispers of the Wind / The Scent of Magnolia

Whispers of the Wind / The Scent of Magnolia Whispers of the Wind / The Scent of Magnolia by Frances Devine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable read. This is the first book by Frances Devine that I've read, and I'm glad I did. I'll let you read the other reviews for what the story is about. However, I must say that I can definitely tell that Frances did her homework. The research she did was in depth and articulated well without being teachy or lecture like. Very well done.

Characters are well developed, although I think the superintendent acted a bit out of character sometimes, but then we find out why later on, so the tweaks and quirks are forgiven when we find out.

Lily, one of the children, is well developed, but the others are such minor characters that it doesn't really matter that they aren't developed. But it feels like something is missing -- children -- when we're in a school and the children are weaving in and out of the story as children do naturally.

The plot is fairly good, too. The romance heavily uses anticipation which is quite delicious. I really liked reading this book. Highly recommend.

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Review: An Alien Perspective

An Alien Perspective An Alien Perspective by Roxanne Barbour
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm probably one of the most critical reviewers that you'll meet. I really don't know why this book averaged 1.5 stars when it is really an excellent read. The characters are extremely well developed for a YA story. There are no cardboard characters here. Admittedly the action is a tad bland if you want to compare this it to something like StarTrek or Star Wars. But if you do, you are missing the whole point of a very poignant story.

Why is it that teenagers are so resilient and so determined to rise above situations. Because they believe that nothing bad will happen to them. Oh, sure, something bad happens to other teens, but nothing bad will happen to me. Adults on the other hand will struggle and strive with each other, will jockey for power, will have trouble working in a team environment, and will [spoiler]act just like the second team found a day's walk from our original team.[/spoiler]

If you've ever taken some college communications courses, this would be a good study in small group communication and leadership.

This is a study in survival from teenagers' point of view. I'd say this would be an excellent read for 9-12 year olds.

I do recommend this book.

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