Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review of Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

I enjoyed book 1 in Rachel Hauck`s Royal Weddings Series, but ...

I loved Book 2!! Princess Ever After was amazing!

9780310315506Regina Beswick was born to be a princess. But she’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairytales. Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future---and his own. Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever. Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together---with a little divine intervention---Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

The second book in Rachel`s fairy tale, Royal Weddings Series is fantastic. Hauck goes deeper into the fictional story world of Hessenberg from the first book. This time, even the Prince Nathaniel and his blushing Bride Susanna enter the story line as all come together to convince this small-town, grease monkey to become a princess. 

My favorite character by far was Tanner, the hero, Sir Blue Eyes. He is stoic and classy while also being down to earth and real. His interactions with Regina made for many laughs and smiles. His back story, which I won`t spoil for you was well-crafted and fit into the story line perfectly. 

The intrigue that pushed the story forward was finding all the hints and clues left behind by the last Princess of Hessenberg, Regina`s Gran. Hauck kept the characters, and of course the readers running to catch them all in time for the book to end. A real page turner!

I believe book 2 can be a stand alone as far as the story line goes. My only concern would be the detailed information about the history of the fictional country. It is pivotal to the story. I found the history aspects much easier to follow in this book over the first one. That may (or may not) be related to the fact that I had some understanding of the situation going into Book 2. This is just a very mild warning.

Reading Group guide included as well.

It was a true delight to read and I recommend it to anyone. This is my favorite princess story.

Order your copy from any Christian retailers. Also watch out for another Rachel Hauck book coming out next month, A March Bride.  

Thanks to Booksneeze and Zondervan for the review copy. I received it free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

What is your favorite princess story

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review of The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

I am not typically a Regency reader. This book was a new adventure for me... and one that I enjoyed. Even though it was the cover that convinced me to open the book. It was the fantastic story world and time-specific prose that kept me there!

The Dancing Master  -     By: Julie Klassen
Finding himself the man of the family, and with no other options, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But Alec is stunned to learn the village is controlled by a wealthy widow who has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.
Alec finds an unlikely ally in Miss Julia Midwinter, the widow's daughter. While initially wary of Julia's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul -- and a hidden sorrow of her own. Julia Midwinter is instantly intrigued by the handsome dancing master -- a man of whom her mother would never approve. She cannot fathom why he would leave London -- or why he evades questions about his past. Together, can Alec and Julia bring new life to this quiet village -- and to one woman's hardened heart?

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen reads a lot like a Jane Austen novel. The writing and style give you a feel from the past beginning from the first words. I struggled a little getting into that flow, as it is not my typical style of reading. However, once I did catch on to the prose I enjoyed it very much. It truly gives the feeling of an escape.

Although I found the book long and at times slow to answer my burning questions, it kept me moving and reading at a steady pace. (There were a few late nights.) The plot was intriguing, but at the beginning of the book I had my doubts if it would hold my interest at the pace it was taking. (So, if you are starting the book - hang in there ... don't put it away quite yet.) Once the intrigue of the staunch Matriarch's past caught me, I was hooked. The sweet and satisfying romance of the story was evident but took a side seat to the drama of the story. Very well done.

The characters were rich and enjoyable for me. Typically I do not like a large cast, but this one felt right. The many villagers and local families added so much to the story. I especially enjoyed the two Dancing Masters in the story. I found Julia Midwinter a little pesky to like at times - almost like a younger sibling. However Klassen did a great job of showing Julia's character arc. She grew on me.

Overall, I would have to say that Julie Klassen has done a great job. She presented a thorough, and rich story of endearing but flawing characters amidst a stunning backdrop of the drastic class structure of England in the 1800s. This is a real winner! 

I recommend this book - especially if you are already a fan of Regency novels.

Discussion questions are available at the back of the book as well. Julie also has an excerpt of the novel on her website - books page.

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

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

All of Creation testifies ...

What do you get when you put a passionate Science Guy and a devout Creationist together in a room?

I would imagine a little fireworks, but last night it turned out to be a very calm, civilized debate.

Two great minds converged in Kentucky to discuss an age old question asked in a new way.
Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?
Ken Ham, a bestselling author, radio host and founder of Answers in Genesis tackled the Creation side, while Bill Nye (most commonly known as Bill Nye, The Science Guy) renowned speaker, author and teacher took on the evolution side of the argument.

The debate was hosted by the Creation Museum to a jam-packed audience of 800 spectators and over 70 media outlets represented. The entire evening was mediated by CNN's Tom Foreman.

The debate ran for almost three hours including an audience question and answer period.

I would love to give you my impressions on the evening