November 29, 2012

The Captain's Bride by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Title: The Captain’s Bride (Northern Lights #1)
Author:  Lisa Tawn Bergren
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781578560134
Source: Review copy from Blogging for Books
Published: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (June 2, 2009)
Synopsis of book: Elsa Anders's dream of marrying Peder Ramstad is about to come true. But as this independent, strong-willed woman discovers her own creative gifts--a love for travel, painting, and the sea--can she find happiness with a captain who insists upon leaving her safely on shore?
Leaving their home in Norway behind, Elsa and Peder embark on a new life in  with their closest friends, including: Kaatje Jansen, a woman seeking a new beginning for the sake of her marriage and for the child growing within her; Elsa's sister Tora, a sly young vixen who knows exactly what she wants--and exactly how to get it; and Karl Martensen, a man torn between his friendship for Peder and a forbidden, secret love for Elsa, a man tormented by emotions that threaten to ruin them all.
From the gentle hills of Bergen, Norway, to the rocky coast of Camden, Maine, and across the crashing, danger-filled waves of the open sea--experience an epic saga of perseverance and passion, faith and fidelity, in the Northern Lights series: the historical series by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Why I read this book: I was given this book by Blogging for Books to read and give an honest review. I also enjoy historical fiction so the book stood out to me.
What I didn’t like: That now I have to buy the next in the series to continue on with this historical saga. Just kidding I know that is not a bad thing right.
What I did like: I enjoyed the time period of this book as that is one of my favorite times to read about. I also enjoyed that it starts out in Norway as I have a lot of Norwegian heritage and am always looking for books that take place there or have to do with Norwegians.
Overall Impression: This book is full of very strong characters. We start out in Norway and then journey over the high seas to the new land: America – to start life anew. I think the author did a good job of making the characters seem very real as they faced situations that happen in everyday life. One of my favorite characters was Tora – she knew what she wanted and she knew what she had to do to get it. I liked that she was so stubborn that she got on the boat even though she was told she could not go. It took me a short time to get into the book but once I got going it was hard to stop. I will continue on with this series so I can find out what happens next to this cast of characters. "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review." I give this book 4 stars.

Here is a link for you to try out the first chapter of this book: Chapter 1 of The Captain's Bride

November 28, 2012

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Title: Fall of Giants
Author: Ken Follett
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Bought
Published: Signet (September 4, 2012)
Type: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 9780451232854
Synopsis of Book: A thirteen-year-old Welsh boy enters a man’s world in the mining pits.…An American law student rejected in love finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House.… A housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with a German spy.…And two orphaned Russian brothers embark on radically different paths when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution.
From the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty, Fall of Giants takes us into the inextricably entangled fates of five families—and into a century that we thought we knew, but that now will never seem the same again.…
Why I read this book: I really liked this author’s book: Pillars of the Earth and World Without End so I thought I would try this series as well.
What I liked: I liked the historical part of this book. I also really liked Ethel and Maud.
What I didn’t like: For me this book had some very dry parts and I wish it would have had just a little less in depth talk of the war and a little more about the characters lives.
Overall Impression: I was so looking forward to reading this book that when a friend mentioned reading it I said I will read it with you. Well I was disappointed in this book. To me there were quite a few dry spots. I liked that they talked about the war and I learned a lot about it but the way it was done was very hard for me to get thru at spots. I enjoyed reading about the characters. The author did a great job in making them seem real. My two favorites were Maud and Ethel. They were both very strong women in their own right. I liked how Ethel was able to rise from her “class” and get some things done for all women. I also liked Grigori – he was a very nice guy who just wanted to do right by everyone and his brother was horrible and kept causing problems for him. I also liked how Germany, England, America and Russia were all intertwined in the book and the author told how each country was involved in WWI and how things happened after the war. I am going to give this book 3 stars. 

November 27, 2012

Historical Holiday Blog Hop

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I will be participating in the First Annual Historical Holiday Blog Hop that is being hosted by Amy at Passages to the Past. The blog hop will run from December 10-17th.

There are going to be giveaways on each stop of the hop with a grand prize of a $25 gift card. My personal giveaway is open to the US – please check back on the 10th to see which historical book I will be giving away to a lucky winner.

Be sure to check out the other great blogs that will also be participating. If you would like to join in on the fun and be a stop on the blog go to Passages to the Past link here and check it out. 

November 26, 2012

Scentsy Review

I had the pleasure of receiving a Scentsy plug in warmer from a new Scentsy Consultant named Melissa. I received the zebra print wall plug in warmer as my daughter is a big fan of zebra print and I wanted something for her room. I have to say I do like this new plug in much better than the older version. It it lighter and fits just right into the plug in and puts out just enough light to be used as a night light. 

We also got many of the new Scentsy fragrance bars. I must admit I have an addiction to Scentsy's fragrances - it seems I can never get enough. So far out of the ones we received we have tried Mandarian Moon and White Tea and Cactus. Both are very nice in their own right. I also got some Scentsy car fragrances. Today I put the Hemingway fragrance in my car and it smells wonderful. This is the first time I have used the car fragrance and I am happy with it. 

I encourage you to check out Melissa's Scentsy website site here and her facebook page here and get started on your holiday shopping for your family, friends and even yourself.

November 15, 2012

Twice a Bride by Mona Hodgson

Title: Twice a Bride
Author: Mona Hodgson
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Given to me to Blogging for Books
Published: Waterbrook Press, October 2, 2012
Type: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780307730329
Synopsis of Book: 
Full of resolve, young widow Willow Peterson decides to pursue her dreams to be an artist as she settles into a new life in the growing mountain town of Cripple Creek. When she lands a job working as a portrait painter with handsome entrepreneur and photographer Trenton Van Der Veer, the road before Willow seems to be taking a better-than-anticipated turn.
With questions tugging at several hearts in town, including the Sinclair Sisters’ beloved Miss Hattie, change is traveling down the tracks as several unexpected visitors make their way out West. Will the new arrivals threaten the deep family bonds of the Sinclair sisters and the roots of love that are just taking hold for Willow?
Filled with the resonating questions that all women face, this romance awakens hope against grief, love against loss, and dreams against life’s unexpected turns.
Why I read this book: This book was given to me for a fair and honest review
What I liked: I liked the writing style of this author. I really like the town of Cripple Creek
What I didn't like: I don't like that this is the end of this series. It is one of those series you want to keep going.
Overall Impression: I like how the author brought two people who were struggling with grief in different ways together to help each other without them knowing it. This is the second book I have reviewed recently that the woman does a job that is not necessarily common to women of their time period and I enjoy that. I also like how it keeps with the story of the Sinclair sisters as well. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this reviewI give this book 4 stars.

If you would like to read a sneak peak here is a link for you. Sneak Peek

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Title: Against the Tide
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Given to me to by publisher
Published: Bethany House, October 1, 2012
Type: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780764210235
Synopsis of Book: After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.
Lydia's talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.
When Bane's enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane's mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.
When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?
Why I read this book: This book was given to me for a fair and honest review by the publisher
What I liked: I liked the descriptions used in this book. They helped me to feel as if I was right there and could see what the characters saw. I also enjoyed Elizabeth's writing style.
What I didn't like: I can't really think of anything I did not like about this book other than that was a big issue with opium at that time period.  
Overall Impression: I loved Lydia from page one in this book. I like how Elizabeth gave life to a female character that was well educated, knew many languages and worked with the Navy at a time when women were usually considered to be not smart and only good for cooking, cleaning and raising kids. I also really liked how there is such detail about the opium trade and all that went along with it. I also liked how there was a little mention of Elizabeth's two previous books in this book. Another thing I found enjoyable was how Lydia and Bane played off of each other and how Lydia found herself falling for him as she was helping him to translate documents. This book grabbed me from page one. I can't wait for the next book by Elizabeth. I give it 5 stars.  

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Title: Unending Devotion
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Given to me to by publisher
Published: Bethany House, September 1, 2012
Type: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780764208348
Synopsis of Book: Michigan, 1883
In Her Darkest Hours, Is He the Man She Needs?
Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer's assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan--and the sights of Connell McCormick.
Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye.
Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell's help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what's right cost them both everything?
Why I read this book: This book was given to me for a fair and honest review by the publisher
What I liked: I liked the time period in which this book was set as well as the area. I have not read too many books set in Michigan. I also liked the main character Lily.
What I didn't like: I did not like some of the town's people and how they lured young women into a trade that was not nice or safe for women. I also did not like Tierney as he was not a nice person.  
Overall Impression: Again Jody did not disappoint me. I enjoy reading her books as they have a way a grabbing my attention and make me want to keep reading until the book is done. This was an interesting subject matter that is kind of hard to approach in a mild manner but it was done here. I like the way Lily got Connell to see that even though he was not a part of what was happening it was still not right by doing nothing about it and how he came around. I know this profession happened a lot in that time period but is just not usually mentioned, what a way to bring awareness. This book was full of romance, emotion, and forgiveness. Thank you Bethany House for letting me read this book. I give this book 5 stars.

November 7, 2012

The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills (Plus Giveaway)

Title: The Summer Before the Storms
Author: Gabriele Wills
Genre: Fiction
Source: Given to me to by publisher
Published: Mind Shadows, October 19, 2006
Type: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 0973278021
Synopsis of Book: Muskoka, 1914. It is the Age of Elegance in the summer playground of the affluent and powerful. Amid the pristine, island-dotted lakes, the granite cliffs, and pine-scented forests of the Canadian wilderness, the young and carefree amuse themselves with glittering balls, lavish picnics, and friendly competitions. But their charmed lives begin to unravel with the onset of the Great War, in which many are destined to become part of the lost generation . <P>This richly textured tale takes the reader on an unforgettable journey from romantic moonlight cruises to the horrific sinking of the Lusitania, genteel Muskoka to wartime Britain, regattas on the water to combat in the skies over France, extravagant mansions to deadly trenches: from innocence to nationhood. 
Why I read this book: This book was given to me for a fair and honest review by the publisher
What I liked: I liked the characters in this book. The author did a good job of making them believable. I also liked the summer setting of the book, I think that would have been a nice place to spend your summers.

What I didn't like: I don't usually read books set in this time period but I wanted to give this one a try and go in with an open mind. This time period is just not my cup of tea.

Overall Impression: I liked that the author took the time to do her research when writing this book, to me that makes the book more interesting and real. It really showed in all the details. Another thing I enjoyed was reading about the war from the Canadians point of view. I think it was nice to get a different prespective on things. The title of the book really sums up the whole story - the characters are enjoying their summer and then comes the storm in the form of the war and the sinking of the Lusitania. I liked how we had a bit of romance - a bit of war - a bit of history - a bit of adventure all rolled into one. My favorite character in this book was Victoria. She was a strong willed person who does what she wants and is not afraid of what others think of her. I am glad I had the chance to read this book and enjoyed it. 3 Stars.

Giveaway: I am hosting a giveaway for this book. The giveaway is for one copy of the book in print, Kindle or Kobo. Winners in the U.S. or Canada will receive their choice. International winners will receive the Kindle version. The drawing for this giveaway will be open until November 16th at midnight eastern time. To be entered in this giveaway you must be a follower of my blog. Please leave a comment and your email address for me to contact you if you win. You have 48 hours to respond to the email after I send it to you or another winner will be drawn.

November 5, 2012

The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O'Brien (Plus Giveaway)

Title: The Lincoln Conspiracy
Author: Timothy L. O'Brien
Genre: Historical Thriller
Source: Given to me by Publisher
Published: Ballantine Books - September 18, 2012
Type: Hardback
ISBN: 9780345496775
Synopsis of Book: In late spring of 1865, as America mourns the death of its leader, Washington, D.C., police detective Temple McFadden makes a startling discovery. Strapped to the body of a dead man at the B&O Railroad station are two diaries, two documents that together reveal the true depth of the Lincoln conspiracy. Securing the diaries will put Temple's life in jeopardy--and will endanger the fragile peace of a nation still torn by war.
Temple's quest to bring the conspirators to justice takes him on a perilous journey through the gaslit streets of the Civil War-era capital, into bawdy houses and back alleys where ruthless enemies await him in every shadowed corner. Aided by an underground network of friends--and by his wife, Fiona, a nurse who possesses a formidable arsenal of medicinal potions--Temple must stay one step ahead of Lafayette Baker, head of the Union Army's spy service. Along the way, he'll run from or rely on Edwin Stanton, Lincoln's fearsome secretary of war; the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton; abolitionist Sojourner Truth; the photographer Alexander Gardner; and many others.
Bristling with twists and building to a climax that will leave readers gasping, The Lincoln Conspiracy offers a riveting new account of what truly motivated the assassi
Why I Read This Book:  I like historical books and this one looked like a good one to me and I was asked to review it.
What I liked: I liked the historical parts of this book as well as the detail that the author put into this book. The way the characters were used and described was good as well. It was like you were right there with them.
What I didn't Liked: That is was so good I could not put it down and wanted to stay up late to finish it, I know not a bad thing right.
Overall Impression: I am glad that I was given this book to review. I loved the history in this book as well as the conspiracy theory behind Lincoln's death. There were twists and turns that kept me from putting the book down. I loved Temple McFadden and his wife Fiona. Imagine if the diaries were true how history could have been re-written. Another thing I liked is that the women in the book seemed like strong people. I enjoy when there are strong women in books. I look forward to reading more by this author. If you are a lover of history and mystery then this book is for you. 5 Stars.  

Here is a link to the blog tour for this book: The Lincoln Conspiracy Blog Tour Link

Giveaway: I am hosting a giveaway for this book for US only. The giveaway is for one copy of the book in print. The drawing for this giveaway will be open until November 12th at midnight eastern time. To be entered in this giveaway you must be a follower of my blog. Please leave a comment and your email address for me to contact you if you win. You have 48 hours to respond to the email after I send it to you or another winner will be drawn.