Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Beautifully written: "Until the Dawn" by Elizabeth Camden

Cover Art


about the book....

Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie van Riijn sees no harm in setting up a rooftop weather station for her work with the newly established Weather Bureau. While the villagers are suspicious of the mysterious estate and its tragic history, Sophie has come to see it as her own enchanted piece of paradise. 

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover Sophie trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie yet find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There's a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark can no longer be kept in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?


my review...


With a compelling plot immersed in beautiful prose, "Until the Dawn" has become one of my favourite books from Elizabeth Camden! The author has created a fascinating historical backdrop in the mansion of Dierenpark, a place shrouded with secrecy and tragedy. I loved watching the mystery unfold, chapter after chapter, as seen through the eyes of the loveable Sophie and the wounded Quentin. Their interactions are highly entertaining, sometimes humorous and very often touching. I so liked these characters that I just wasn't able to part from the book for a moment, reading it from cover to cover in just one day. The funny thing is I can barely put my finger on exactly what made this book so un-put-downable, just that I had to find out how things would resolve!.

I quite enjoyed the way the author explores science versus faith, finding a common harmony among them. As always, Camden excels at adding a true spirituality to her novels, pointing towards Jesus, but always in a way that only adds and never detracts from the story by becoming preachy. Quentin's struggles with unbelief and his brooding ways made his transformation all the sweeter. Indeed, I thought that both of the characters grew in marvellous yet realistic ways over the course of the story, such that I found myself inspired by the changes I viewed. And I don't mind admitting that there were a couple of scenes of this story that moved me to tears as I was wrapped up in the wonder of the story.

I am always eager to pick up the latest Camden novel, and this one delivers in every way. I greatly enjoyed this story and am positive you will too. I award this novel 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.


about the author....

Elizabeth CamdenElizabeth Camden is the author of eight historical novels and has been honored with a RITA Award, Christy Award, and Daphne du Maurier Award. With a master's in history and a master's in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida. Learn more at www.elizabethcamden.com.







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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Utterly satisfying: "The Painter's Daughter" by Julie Klassen


Cover Art


about the book....


Sophie Dupont assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. In private, she paints the picturesque north Devon coast, popular with artists--including handsome Wesley Overtree, who seems more interested in Sophie than the landscape. 

Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother Wesley's responsibilities. Near the end of his leave, he is sent to find his brother and bring him home. Upon reaching Devonshire, however, Stephen is stunned to learn Wesley has sailed for Italy and left his host's daughter in serious trouble. 

Stephen feels duty-bound to act, and strangely protective of the young lady, who somehow seems familiar. Wanting to make some recompense for his own past failings as well as his brother's, Stephen proposes to Miss Dupont. He does not offer love, but marriage "in name only" to save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he fears, she will at least be a respectable widow.

Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie finds herself torn between her first love and this brooding man she barely knows. Dare she wait for Wesley to return? Or should she elope with the captain and pray she doesn't come to regret it?


my review....


Julie Klassen offers up an entertaining historical novel in "The Painter's Daughter", one with plenty of mystery and unexpected moments. She depicts her characters with a sure hand, creating a winning heroine in Sophie Dupont, a worthy counterpart in Captain Stephen Overtree, and a man I truly did not like in Stephen's brother Wesley. Julie's main characters are flawed, yet redeemed by grace, and she perfectly captures the moral tone of the day as people learn of the mistake Sophie and Welsey have made and the predicament Sophie finds herself in. Having a brother myself, I tried to imagine what it would be like to have a brother like Wesley, and was very thankful that I do not!

As the story progressed, I found myself pondering the similarities between society back in Sophie's day, with society today, and was saddened to realize that scores of men today continue to shirk duty and honour much like Wesley did. As back then, our culture sees far too few Stephen like men who stand up to be the kind of men God wants us to be. While no means perfect, Stephen's heart of faith and his real integrity set quite the example for what a man should be like. As usual with a Klassen novel, I did not find the romance to be of a kind that would deter a male reader from enjoying this novel. Add in the unexpected secrets and reveals that take place during the story, and you have a
novel that any reader is sure to enjoy.

Any time I pick up a book from Julie Klassen, I know I am in for a satisfying read. "The Painter's Daughter" is another keeper from a talented author, and I give this novel a strong rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



 about the author....



Julie Klassen
JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing's BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards and ACFW's Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.





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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Another fun read from Regina Jennings: "At Love's Bidding"


Cover Art


about the book....

She Sells Priceless Antiques.
He Sells Livestock by the Pound.
Is He Really the Man to Make a Bid for Her Heart?

After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the people who could ruin them forever, they track it to the Missouri Ozarks and make an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house and all its holdings before the painting can move again. 

Upon crossing the country, however, Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt Ballentine, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count--but no mysterious painting--Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.


my review....

Regina Jennings has done it again! Her latest novel, "At Love's Bidding", is another fun filled, enjoyable novel that may be one of my favourite Jennings' novels yet. With her usual flair, Jennings has created characters who will no doubt have you smiling if not laughing out loud at their well-intentioned antics and the misunderstandings that occur. (The scene where Miranda whacks someone upside the head...well, it's just priceless). Miranda Wimplegate and Wyatt Ballentine definitely have some sparks that fly between them, both romantic ones and those coming from a place of pure frustration! Their dialogue is often witty, and I was relieved to find that any romance was quite genuine with no real sappiness to deter me. I also liked the historical period of time that the novel is set in, and found myself wondering how on Earth people truly believed that you could examine someone's head to determine what kind of personality they had! Fascinating, indeed,and a very real example that what we consider science to be one day may be nothing of the kind the next. I also thought that Miranda's relationship with her grandfather offered an interesting element to the story, because as he exhibited more and more signs of dementia I found myself wondering how they dealt with such an issue back in the 1800's. I can only imagine what a struggle it was to understand what was going on and how to support your loved through such a change.  
Readers who enjoy a mostly light-hearted read with some tender moments thrown in, and who are craving a laugh or two, should plan on getting their hands on a copy of "At Love's Bidding". The plot is engaging, the characters are lovable, and you will greatly enjoy your time spent with Miranda and Wyatt. I give this novel a strong rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



 about the author....



Regina Jennings
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children and can be found online at www.reginajennings.com.





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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The lifeline you were looking for: "Planet Middle School" by Dr. Kevin Leman


Cover Art


about the book....


You are about to embark on a fantastic journey

If you've ever watched one of those movies where regular people are walking around minding their own business, until without warning their chests burst open and alien life-forms come slithering out, then you know what it's like to suddenly find yourself with a middle-schooler. Your once-peaceful home full of silliness and laughter morphs into the twisted landscape of a forbidding alien world, where moody adolescents drag their claws and moan about . . . well, just about everything.

Welcome to Planet Middle School. Better get comfortable. You'll be here awhile.

Lucky for you, New York Times bestselling author Dr. Kevin Leman successfully navigated Planet Middle School with five children. With his expert guidance, you'll see how you can help your child not only survive but thrive during these turbulent years. Leman shows you how to 

· understand your child's rapidly expanding world
· respond rather than react to mood swings
· tell your child about sex (before someone else tells their version)
· create opportunities for your child to practice selflessness and gratitude
· ensure that your kid is one who loves home and family
· and much more

Middle-schoolers can be a strange, unpredictable species. But with a little help from Dr. Leman, you can ride out the interstellar storm with humor and confidence.


my review....

My oldest daughter is just entering those middle school years, and I can tell you that I've had some moments of fear and trembling, anticipating what lies around the corner. So when I saw that Dr. Leman released his latest book, "Planet Middle School", I wasted no time in getting a copy of my own. I am happy to report that not only is this book well-written and laid out in an easy-to-navigate manner, but it is chock full of practical advice to guide parents through the middle school years (which he defines as approximately ages 11-13). I think what parents may most appreciate about this book is that they won't feel so alone in wondering why their child has, at times, gone from so sweet natured to a complete stranger seemingly overnight! Leman covers every topic under the sun, from kids experiencing bullying, to the importance of discussing sex, to navigating the dangerous world of social media. Each chapter not only has clear advice pertaining to each topic area, but also has anecdotes from parents who have already been through these years and who can share the wisdom they've gleaned along the way. One of the chapters I most enjoyed was the one about "Creating an Attitude of Gratitude". So often I find that children in this youngest generation have a clear sense of entitlement, and having some clear guidelines from Dr. Leman about how to teach children to be grateful and that it's not all about them, is very helpful and needed!

I personally found "Planet Middle School" to be so interesting and timely that I read it through in one night. However, I plan on taking this book off the shelf over and over in the coming years, any time that I may feel like pulling out my hair! Knowing I have somewhere to turn for guidance can greatly reduce the feelings of stress parents have, and Dr. Leman certainly offers a lot of wisdom indeed. I highly recommend this helpful resource and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



 about the author....



Dr. Kevin Leman
Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known psychologist, radio and television personality, and speaker who has taught and entertained audiences worldwide with his wit and commonsense psychology. He has made house calls for hundreds of radio and television programs, such as Fox & Friends, The View, Fox's The Morning Show, Today, Dr. Bill Bennett's America in the Morning, 700 Club, CBS's The Early Show, James Robison's Life Today, Janet Parshall, CNN's American Morning, and Focus on the Family, and has served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America.



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Planet Middle School: Helping Your Child through the Peer Pressure, Awkward Moments & Emotional Drama

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Do You See What I See - eBook

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