A Haven on Orchard Lane: A Net Galley Review

A Haven on Orchard Lane  -     By: Lawana Blackwell  
My mom introduced me to the author Lawana Blackwell many years ago through The Gresham Chronicles. I’ve loved her ever since! It has been a few years since she has published a new book, so I was very excited to read A Haven on Orchard Lane. I was not disappointed!

The story centers around the rekindled relationship of an estranged mother and daughter. While I do not relate to that specifically, I did enjoy the interchange and growth which occurred throughout between the two characters. While this is the main story, out from it come many branches and side stories which are intriguing and carefully crafted. The setting is a quaint seaside English village. As I read I felt as if I were walking the streets and left me with a desire to visit one day!

One of the unique and enjoyable aspects of Lawana Blackwell’s stories is the abundance of colorful characters and the intertwining of their lives. This beautifully written story focuses mostly on two women, but the many wonderful characters leaves you feeling as if you are a part of the charming community. Characters are artfully crafted and feel very realistic. You will feel as if you know each one personally as you read.

As with every book I’ve ever read by Mrs. Blackwell I was sad to get to the final page. I hated to say goodbye to the quaint village and charming characters. I dearly hope this is not the only novel about them!

London Art Chase: A BookLook Blogger Review

This first book in the Glimmer Girls series is simply delightful! Three sisters, two older twins and a younger, tag along with their mom on her trips around the world. Their mom is a famous Christian singer so they experience a very different life than my own girls do. Part of the fun of this series is the fun of all fiction, transporting yourself to a different setting and life experience!
This series is going to be a favorite in our household. We also have a family of three girls and so this has intrigued my daughters. They like the adventures and mysteries the girls find themselves in the midst of in each book. 
My 10-year-old daughter says…
“It’s really funny and I like that they talk about God in their family.”
I too love that their family follows God. It is wonderful to have our own Christian values reflected in the literature they are reading. So much of today’s fiction is not something I think is appropriate for young girls, but this is a wonderful exception to that. Not only is it spiritually uplifting, but my daughters have found the titles in this series to be engaging and fun! 
We are looking forward to reading more titles from this series when the are published!
Disclaimer: I received this title in exchange for my honest review from BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. I did not receive any other compensation.

A Dolphin Wish: A BookLook Blogger Review

Natalie Grant has written a delightful series with the Glimmer Girls! Based on her own three daughters and their adventures as they travel, these books have delighted my own three daughters!
In a Dolphin’s Wish, the girls travel to the beach. While there they stumble upon a mystery at Watery World have an adventure of a time! Their mother, an Christian music star, takes her daughters along as she travels around the country and even the world! This is the second book in the series and we are excited to also be reviewing the first book in the series.
My girls, ages 10, 8, and 6, love to read. It is sometimes difficult to find current literature that is appropriate for them in our culture. This series is more than just fun, it is safe. The family values modeled are an encouragement to me as a mother and I’m so excited my girls enjoyed this book! 
My 8-year-old says…
“I liked this book! It’s fun to read and I want to read more!” 
I personally have been a fan of Natalie Grant’s music over the years and I was excited to see she had written this series. I think it is important for young girls to see there is adventure and fun in your life no matter where you are and that all that we do is important to God. It is a blessing to have the values I’m teaching my girls reflected in the literature they read. 
Disclaimer: I received this title from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation. I was not required to write a positive review.

Channing O’ Banning and the Turquoise Trail: A Net Galley Review!

When I was a kid I read constantly. I’m so excited that my own girls are becoming avid readers! They are incredibly excited every time I have a new book to review that is just for them.
The Channing O’Banning series is a new book series by Angela Spady which has captured my oldest daughter’s heart! Channing is a 4th grade artist extraordinaire whose adventures are recorded in these engaging books. The Turquoise Trail is the first in the series. I asked my daughter to read and write her own review. Here is what she had to say! 
Channing O’Banning and the Turquoise Trail is a really fun story. I really ike it because there are a lot of cool history facts. Chan, as her friends call her, is sort of like me. I really like to draw and I have two younger sisters. I really liked this story and I hope to read more Channing O’Banning stories soon!” – Rose, age 10
As she was reading, Rose would stop and say, “Mommy! Guess what?” And tell me all sorts of things she had learned from the book. She loves that Channing is an artist as that is her main passion. Her big dream is to become an art teacher overseas. She almost always has a drawing pad and pencil along with her. This story opened up her imagination and for several days after reading I found her outside even more with her sketch pad and drawing supplies.
It is so wonderful when I can find books that are engaging and age appropriate for my girls. So much of what is published today for young girls is too mature in content and we try to guard them from experiencing too much too soon. This is a delightfully sweet series that really grabbed my own pre-teen’s imagination. 
Disclaimer: I received this title from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. I was not required to write a positive review.

Beneath the Forsaken City: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

Beneath the Forsaken City by C. E. Laureno is a young adult fiction novel, set in an ancient time with magic and intrigue. This Celtic fantasy is like no other book I’ve read and it has been an interesting trip away from my usual choice in fiction.

C. E. Laureno is an award winning author with an unending imagination. The world she has created in her series The Song of Seare is beautiful and inspiring. I struggled to really get into the book from the beginning, and so I did a little research. What I discovered is this is the second book in a trilogy. My main reason for having a hard time fully understanding what was going on was I have not yet read the first book in the series.

Beneath the Forsaken City begins with a newlywed couple escaping danger created by the evil Druids who rule Seare. The groom, Conor,  leaves knowing that he will have to return in order to free Seare from the reign of the Druids. Just when the couple feel a small breath of safety the tragedy of a storm at sea separates them, neither knowing if the other is alive. Aine, the bride, is washed ashore in one place and Conor in another, resulting in the fight to survive and find one another.

Throughout the novel both Conor and Aine must learn to follow the leading of Comdiu, the One we would call the God of heaven. Each takes a different path and must struggle to lean on Comdiu alone, a journey they struggle through.

As I said before, this is a great departure from the genre of literature I usually gravitate towards. While the story-line itself was engaging, I found myself bogged down by the unfamiliar names of people and places, having a hard time keeping it all straight. I think this may have been a bit easier had I read the first novel in this the trilogy. The other struggle I had as I read was the amount of description for the violence. I know I am personally more affected by both reading and watching violent things, even when they aren’t very graphic. I have to say as far as that is concerned, the author did a good job keeping the amount of blood minimal compared to most popular novels, but it was still too much for me to comfortably read.

If you have an interest in reading Celtic fantasy, this is an excellent read for you. While it isn’t one which particularly delighted me, the story is well written and in my opinion would be incredibly engaging for anyone who loves this genre. I have a strong feeling my oldest daughter will particularly enjoy this book when she is a bit older.

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of Beneath the Forsaken City from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

The Princess Spy: A BookLook Blogger Review

Who doesn’t love a spy novel? How about a princess story? In my mind, those two do not really go together, which is what intrigued me about this novel. Neither genre are typically one which pulls at me, but I thought I should give this a try and boy am I glad I did!

The background for this story is a princess who is struggling to find her match for marriage. While her father and mother have done their best to find the perfect mate, but Margaretha does not fit well with any of the men she has been paired with. Her outgoing and talkative personality turn many men away or force her to tell her parent’s she’s not interested.

While her latest beau shows some promise, she is still not drawn to him in the way she wishes. Still, she tries her best. At the same time a stranger has appeared on her father’s land and she is one of a few privy to his arrival. He speaks a language foreign to her German ears, yet he intrigues her.

This delightful mystery unveils with each turn of the page and I was quickly drawn into the intrigue. Unexpected twists and turns paired with romance create a beautifully woven tale which you will be unable to put it down!

This is the first novel I have read by Melanie Dickerson and I enjoyed it so very much I’m looking forward to reading more of her works soon. I’m sure you will love this as much as I did!

Buttermilk Sky: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

One of my favorite past times which I unfortunately neglected after my kids were born was reading for me. I read a lot…a lot. It was typically about child-rearing or motherhood or something else which was incredibly beneficial, but not for my personal enjoyment. Blogging and reviewing has pushed me back to something I loved and the only downside is I have a hard time putting my most recent novels down!

The basic plot centers around Mazy Pelfry, a young, life-loving lady who is seeking to branch out on her own. Mazy decides to make a drastic change, leaving her Kentucky hill-life and swapping it for bustling Lexington as she attends secretarial school. While this is a huge change, Mazy does her best to fit in and play the part of a city girl. Along the way her integrity and loyalty are tested by several housemates as she navigates the balance of relationships and school. 
Waiting back home is the young sheriff, Chanis Clay, who must himself grow into his own. He has big shoes to fill after his father’s death and wants nothing more than to be taken seriously and take care of his town. Chanis is also working hard to win the heart of Mazy whom he has always assumed would return to him. 
Buttermilk Sky was a light read and enjoyable to pick up for a few minutes when I had time throughout the day. Sometimes I felt like there were missing pieces to background information which made sense once I found out this is part of a larger series, Troublesome Creek. I am intrigued to read the other books by Jan Watson as they are placed in Kentucky, which is where my mother’s family is from.  
While there were moments when I felt a little distant from the characters, I did thoroughly enjoy my journey through this book. There were many people who popped into the story whom I would have loved to learn more about. Perhaps there will be follow-ups to this coming soon!

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of Buttermilk Sky from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

Prelude for a Lord Giveaway!!!!!!

I have had the chance to read some great books this summer. My favorite without a doubt Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot. You can read my full review here.

Camille Elliot has generously offered to bless one of my readers with an autographed copy of the book! I’m so excited to have this opportunity because I personally love to read, but my book money is now reserved for wonderful homeschooling supplies and it is a rare treat to have a book all to myself.

The giveaway is open until next Monday and only for residents of the continental US.

I wish you all could win!

The Queen’s Handmaid: Book Review

I’ve found a new genre of fiction which I now love! This is the second novel from Tracy L. Higley I’ve reviewed…and loved! I love history and historical fiction, but I’ve stayed away from anything that wasn’t American History. I pretty much stayed with novels set in the 1800’s. I’m so glad I gave something different a try. 

It may be because my oldest daughter and I are studying this period of history extensively, but I found it much more interesting than I would have a few years ago. Set in the time of Cleopatra (About 40 years before Christ’s birth) and follows the journey of her oldest son’s nurse, Lydia, as she travels from Egypt to Israel in search of her own heritage. 

This beautiful tale weaves history throughout the pages in a way that doesn’t feel as if you are reading a history book. I’ve become a huge fan of living books, books which tell history in a story-like way. This is an excellent example of how one can enjoy learning history. I knew Cleopatra existed, but had no idea what time frame or what she was really like as a ruler. This was not an area I remember studying in grade-school. I actually did a little historical research of my own as I began reading because I wanted to make sure I knew when it was taking place. 

I really enjoyed Lydia’s spiritual journey as well. She struggles with knowing what or who to follow religiously because of the Egyptian, Greek, and Jewish cultures she has learned. She knows she must choose, but it is a long process, not a quick decision. 

I also was surprised at many turns this novel took. It helped to be rather unfamiliar with the history surrounding the story, but I love a novel that keeps me guessing. So much already published is predictable and I’m more excited to read author’s who don’t take the predictable route. 

Even if you don’t normally read historical fiction or this particular time of historical fiction I urge you to give this book a try. I think you’ll find yourself as drawn to it as I was!

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Bluebonnett Bride: Review

I’m always game for reading a new author! I had never read any of Colleen Coble’s books, but had heard good things about this author. I was interested in the premise set in the early 1900’s, around the time of Anne of Green Gable’s setting. I’ve also always been a fan of stories about mail order brides, so I dove into this with a lot of anticipation.  
Elli, the main character has traveled from Finland and a very wealthy upbringing to escape a man she believes to have been involved with the death of her father to start a new life as the wife of Nathan White and mother to Nathan’s four-year-old niece, Hannah. The first day of their marriage begins in turmoil as Elli is attacked for no apparent reason in her own new home. Soon more attacks and trouble begin to test the fragile threads of Elli and Nathan’s barely begun marriage.
Although the story-line had promise, I was actually a little disappointed in this novel. It is a very light read and only took about and hour and a half to read. That is nice in some ways for me because I do not have enormous amounts of time for leisurely reading. I completed most of this as I waited at a doctor’s office and it was simple enough to follow that I wasn’t distracted by all going on around me. 
My disappointment came in the actual content. The conversation between the characters seemed forced at times and rather unnatural and the background information vital to the story was inserted in what felt like awkward moments at times. I also felt there was a lack of character development which I like in my fiction. Part of this may be due to the length of the novel since it is not very long. 
I was also a little disappointed in the references to faith. While I’m not a fan of fiction that preaches at its reader, I do appreciate seeing the faith of the characters more than merely quick prayers for help or a passing reference to their spirituality which is what it felt like with this novel. 
I don’t know that I will be reading more in this series, but I would definitely recommend this author to a younger audience just getting ready to step into more grown up Christian fiction. I’m planning on having my daughter (she is eight now) read it in a few years when she is more mature. 

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.