Friday, October 10, 2014

Book review of A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears

Cover ArtAn historical romance with a western flair and a new up and coming author - what's not to like? That's how I felt when the book A Bride in Store arrived in my mail box. Only that feeling didn't survive to the last page for me. This was not a story I enjoyed. After reading many other reviews on line I see that I am in the minority though ... so please check around before making your own decision. An excerpt from the book is available on line by the publishers.

Melissa Jagears' second book, following her debut A Bride for Keeps continues on in the little western town of Salt Flatts, Kansas in 1881 with a new mail order bride arriving a tad too soon. Here is the Publisher's blurb:
Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn't even in town when she finally arrives.
Axel's business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend's mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store--where she quickly proves she's much more adept at business than he ever will be.
The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both. 
Let's start with characters. This isn't a typical western in my mind. If you're looking for a cowboy or two this isn't the book for you. However our main male character of the story, Will Stanton does a very good job of playing the adorably sweet,and superb gentleman hero. He felt well-rounded and easy to like. The only thing he needed was a little more of a backbone.

Our female counterpart, Eliza Cantrell was not as endearing. She felt too spoiled, too selfish and too whiny to me. I understood as the book progressed that these were characteristics that she needed to work on and she did. However, I couldn't find that one character strength that drew me to like her. She did however, have the backbone our hero lacked.

The other characters in the story were well done. The author does a good job of not writing to the stereotypical quirks and traits. Her ensemble of characters were fun and interesting.

I did not read book one in this series, A Bride for Keeps, and I did not feel it affected my understanding of the characters. However there was one character, Jonesey, that I could not figure out why he was there - so maybe that was a carry-over from story one. Other than that I feel this book can be a stand alone.

The story premise was interesting and drew my attention from the back cover. However I found the story moved very slowly at times with not enough at stake for me. The tension needed to drive this story forward was weak and sometimes implausible.  I would have liked to see the characters do more and think less. There was too much "I think I should-- no I can't" inner dialogue going on. Both the main characters could have overcome most of the obstacles by having a little chat by the half way mark of the book.

Overall, I struggled to finish the book. If I didn't have to write this review I would've shelved the book. I liked the idea and the characters were fine, but the story had no draw and no excitement for me. I wouldn't recommend this book to a friend but I will give this author another read when she publishes again. As her own characters would attest ... everyone deserves another chance.

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for the opportunity to receive this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days by Holley Gerth

It is a privilege to review another book by Holley Gerth. I truly love her easy-going, heart-inspiring way of talking to women. So if you are familiar with Holley and her other books (You Are Already Amazing, You Were Made for a God-sized Dream, and You're Going to be Okay), you will not be disappointed with this one.

However, if you are new to this author, allow me to share a little of what this book can offer you. First, the Publisher's blurb:

Cover ArtWe all have days that make us want to pull the covers back over our heads and eat a dozen cupcakes.

Thankfully, Jesus said we don't "live on bread alone"--that includes cupcakes--"but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). What we really need is truth.

If you're tired, discouraged, or feel a little empty inside, my prayer is that by the end of our time together, you'll be refreshed and nourished in a way that will sustain you through whatever the future may hold.
Remember, you're not alone, my friend.

This book is cute. It is hardcover with bright and fun colours. The book is small, about the size of a photograph (4x6) but jam-packed with wisdom, hope and insightful truths taken from the Psalms. It makes an excellent gift!

Each of the 52 devotions are about three pages long with room to write at the end of each section. She encourages the reader to ask what their heart is saying to God and what they're hearing from God. Also, each entry is titled such as "God will give you courage, not condemnation." Or another title is "God will be with you through the whole process". This allows the reader to pick and choose which entries to read at any given time. Each one is numbered but not dated - lots of freedom here.

Holley uses stories and anecdotes to relate to the issue or topic being discussed, Then she breaks down the spiritual elements using scripture and biblical truths about God's character. Finally she caps it all off with a short prayer of the heart.

Readers will love the way Holley brings hope so effortlessly into the aches and pains we face just by living day-to-day. Pick up her latest encouragement for you and let your soul rest in the unfailing love, peace, strength and joy of our Lord and Savior.

Check out an excerpt of the book, including the Contents page and the first devotional. And don't forget ... it makes a wonderfully cute gift!

"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"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Christmas giving at its best!

We are too privileged. Too blessed.  And beyond any meaning of the word lucky.


Because we were born here and not there.

I, like many of you have no idea what it would be like to be born in a third world. We can't do any more than re-visualize the photos we've seen of what it would be like to raise our children in slums, poverty and illness.

We are too privileged.

In the midst our affluence we give here or give there; we sponsor children and we pray for them; we send over shoe boxes and useful clothing items, but are we really doing enough? If you were a mother living in poverty forced to giver her children up solely so they could eat, would you think we were doing enough?

I don't know.  But I do know this ... I am convicted that I am not doing enough.

The-Lulu-Tree-125x125Please, please go over to Emily T Weirenga's website and post about a new foundation she's starting because she felt the tug of God to do more.  It is called The Lulu Tree.
And here's my challenge to you, one that I have made myself ... in my blessed affluence, if I should ever offer a gift to someone - a family member, friend or colleague - may it be a gift that gives to the world.  Go to Emily's foundation or others like it and promise yourself that every time you give out of your extra abundance (cuz that what present-buying, coffee-purchasing, movie-watching and shoe-shopping is) that a life can be changed.

And if you haven't had a chance to pick up Emily's book Atlas Girl - go now! Check out my review or visit her website to find out more.