Swept Off Her Feet

Swept Off Her Feet by Hester BrowneSwept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne told the enchanted tale of Evie Nicholson is head over heels in love with all things of the past. Evie is an antiques appraiser who spends more time imagining the stories surrounding the antique items than finding the monetary value in them much to the chagrin of her boss.

Evie comes from a family which believes that anything older than a few years should be thrown away. Evie feels the stark difference between her family’s extremely organized lives and homes. When her sister Alice offers her the opportunity to appraise an old Scottish castle called Kettlesheer rumored to be filled with incredible antiques, Evie jumps at the chance. It also helps that Alice’s boyfriend and the man Evie has a bit of a crush on will be accompanying her up in preparation for the annual ball thrown each year at Kettlesheer.

Upon arrival, Evie finds herself in love with the house and the pieces it contains. She is in paradise, imagining herself regally descending the staircase for a ball or being escorted by a handsome man. One thing she’s not so sure about is Robert McAndrew, the current heir to the castle who wants nothing more than to get rid of all the “junk” the castle contains.

I loved this book! It was playful and imaginative. Evie was comical and loveable and someone I could easily relate to. I mean what girl who’s read Pride and Prejudice or seen Downton Abbey hasn’t had a few fantasies as the female lead? I know I have. The supporting characters were great with the exception of Ingrid and Shelia whom I kept mixing up.

I liked Robert even if I didn’t always know what he was thinking or his motives. There were a lot of things I thought clarification would have greatly helped move the story along. But overall, I really enjoyed reading it. It’s a very hard book to put down!

Paper Roses

Paper Roses by Amanda CabotPaper Roses by Amanda Cabot begins with Sarah Dobbs journeying from Philadelphia to San Antonio with her little sister Thea to marry Austin Canfield, the man who has wooed her with his prosaic letters. She not only accepted his offer of marriage because of the beautiful words he wrote her but because she needed to escape the gossip and recrimination she has faced back East.

When Austin’s brother, Clay is the one to greet her, Sarah knows that something is not right. And it isn’t because Austin is dead. Sarah knows she can’t go back East. Not after what happened. She has to find a way to survive in this new town and provide a home for her sister.

Clay doesn’t know what to do with Sarah. He never wanted her or her sister to come in the first place. Clay is stuck working his father’s ranch, something he can’t wait to leave behind. But he can’t do that until he has gotten revenge for his brother’s murder.

This was a book about the importance of forgiveness. Both Sarah and Clay carry around a deep hurt and have turned that into anger at those who have caused them this pain. In doing so, they are not only hurting themselves but preventing anything from happening between them.

Both Sarah and Clay were very strong people with real problems. They had to deal with a lot and did it well. Their struggles were real and their approach was incredibly human. It took time and support to help them heal their wounds. This book had mystery and love and adventure. The supporting characters were well developed and added greatly to the story. I loved the faith woven throughout this book. It had the perfect presence without being too overwhelming. This was a beautiful story and one I heartily recommend.

The Wild Rose

The Wild Rose by Jennifer DonnellyThe Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly is the third and final book in her series about the Finnigan family, following The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose. This is the story of the youngest Finnigan, Seamus, known as Seamie. His story will Willa Aldan actually starts in the end of The Winter Rose where a terrible accident on Kilimanjaro leaves Willa without a leg and a desire never to see Seamie ever again.

The book follows them as they are separated and meet over and over again. Willa has a huge chip on her shoulder which she gained the instant she lost her leg. She has fallen into great despair knowing that she’ll never be able to climb a mountain again. Seamus moves on with his life, marrying a woman to forget Willa.

This was a really hard book for me to rate and review. I loved the first books so much that I had very high expectations and was let down in an extreme way. Neither Seamie nor Willa were characters I had any respect for. They obviously loved each and, as such, went and slept with everyone else and turned to drugs. They were incredibly selfish and didn’t care that they ruined countless lives. Their remorse didn’t even feel real to me.

This was even more disappointing because I really loved Willa and Seamie in The Winter Rose. I feel as if Jennifer Donnelly pretty much ruined them for me. What I did enjoy about this book was the updates on the main characters from the previous two books. It was nice to see glimpses into their present lives.

So what do you think? Did you read this book? Any of the others?

I’ve Got Your Number

I've Got Your Number by Sophie KinsellaI’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella was such a lovely read! The moment I finished reading this book, I sent a text to my sister telling her she has to read it! You know a book is good if this happens. I’ve read a lot by Sophie Kinsella, not all of which I have equally liked. I loved this book, and actually, it’s my favorite of hers so far!

The book begins with Poppy frantically searching a hotel conference room which she has just lost during an impromptu fire drill. Her phone gets stolen, and she’s about to have a total meltdown. But then she sees a phone tossed into a trash bin, and she just can’t resist picking it up and claiming it as her own. This is when the hilarious stuff really begins.

I want to tell you all the funny parts that I absolutely loved, but I don’t want to ruin them for you so I won’t. I thought Poppy was incredibly funny and just a loveable character. She was ridiculous in a realistic way. She is a very engaging character. I had to force myself to put this book down so I could get at least a few hours of sleep. Don’t worry though because the next chance I got, I inhaled the rest of this book.

This was a real page-turner. I absolutely loved it! It had some romance, some drama, and lots of comedy! Fans of Sophie Kinsella will love it!

Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire is the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. This one takes up pretty much where the first one left off. Katniss and Peeta have returned to District 12 where they have settled into their houses in the Victor’s Village. They are about to embark on their Victory Tour of the other districts when Katniss receives a startling visit from President Snow who tells her that even though she has won The Hunger Games she will not be able to live a peaceful life. At least not while the threat of rebellion is upon them. Katniss finds herself having to fall into the role she thought she had left behind to keep all the people she loves safe.

This one was just as much a page turner as the last one was. I loved getting to see more of Katniss outside of the arena. This book is more intense than the first one, in my opinion. There is so much going on and much much more at stake. All the themes in the first book were amplified and seen in a different light. I got to see more of the mindset of the Capitol and a glimpse into the other districts. So many things happened throughout this book, it’s really hard to believe this was just one book and not two or three.

I had so many questions while reading this that I couldn’t possibly put it down until I had gotten to a whopper of a cliffhanger! That’s right, this ends with one heck of a cliffhanger. This is why you must have the sequel sitting beside you once you get close to finishing this one because you’ll want to start it right away. I don’t really want to say more because I would give something away, and I wouldn’t deny you the pleasure of reading it for yourself. So please go out and get this series (it’s best to have all three on hand before starting) and read them!

Until next time, happy reading!

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsI imagine many of you have heard of this book and the series, and many more will discover it as the movie premiere draws closer. I heard about these books a while ago, but never really looked twice at them. I had no idea what they were about. It was not until I saw the link to the movie trailer posted in my friend’s status that my interest was really piqued. This happens to me often it seems. I’ve heard of a book, but only really become interested in it after I see it’s going to be a movie. I have this thing where I like to read books before I see a movie whenever possible. I almost always do so this was not much different. I watched the trailer and was immediately intrigued. I couldn’t wait to read the book and its sequels.
The Hunger Games is the first book in the series and introduces us to Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl, who is living in District 12 in Panem which is located in what was once called North America. Every year two tributes, one boy and one girl, are chosen from each district to participate in The Hunger Games, an event designed by the Capitol to punish the districts for rebelling almost seventy-five years ago. The rules of the game are simple: kill or be killed. When her younger sister is chosen as the female tribute, Katniss does not hesitate to volunteer to take her place. Katniss is whisked away from the only home she knows to compete against twenty-three other children ranging in age from twelve to eighteen.
To say I devoured this book is a bit of an understatement. The only reason I put it down was because I was so exhausted I couldn’t keep my eyes open a minute longer. This is a hazard to starting this book late at night after a busy Christmas Eve. There is so much more to this book than a teenage girl forced to fight for her life. There are so many themes and statements about the dangers of power and class systems that give this book such depth. Katniss is a strong leading character, and it is easy to walk around in her shoes and see the world from her point of view. This book is a real page turner and one I would recommend reading when you have a good chunk of time to read it all the way through because, trust me, you’re not going to want to put it down once you start. I know I didn’t.

I thought about reviewing all three books in this one post but realized that I could be giving away a lot of spoilers to those who intended to read the series. Therefore, look for upcoming posts on Catching Fire, and Mockingjay in the days to come.

Until next time, happy reading!

Faith’s Reward

Faith's Reward by Tammy BarleyFaith’s Reward by Tammy Barley concludes the journey of Jess and Jake Bennett and is just as good as the first two novels. Jess is expecting their first child after months of trying, but her life has not gotten any easier. Their cattle they fought so hard to save threaten to freeze to death, and through trying to save them Jake catches pneumonia. Though winter ends, and spring brings forth much needed rain, their troubles are not over. Southerners are still being threatened, and Jake knows that Jess and their ranch won’t truly be safe until they’re stopped.

Meanwhile, Jess knows that their ranch is on the brink of being lost and decides to hunt down her lost inheritance and sets off on a dangerous journey back to the town where she lost her parents and baby sister to a fire meant to kill her as well.

I love love LOVE! this series! I cannot say too many good things about it! This book was just as amazing as I was expecting. All of the characters are layered, and I was still learning more about Jake and Jess in their third novel. Tammy Barley creates believable situations and turmoil to put her characters through to help them grow. I wish that I could read about them forever! Their lives are so interesting and intriguing. I would recommend this book to everyone and have! I cannot wait to read more by this author in the future!

Hope’s Promise

Hope's Promise by Tammy BarleyHope’s Promise by Tammy Barley is the second book in the Sierra Chronicles following Love’s Rescue. The story of Jess and Jake picks up a few months after the last book left off. They are now happily married and back home on their ranch. Their life is not without problems though. Jake is worried that the life will become too hard for Jess to bear especially since they are in the midst of a terrible drought. He fears that he would not be enough to keep her at the ranch. Jess feels terrible because she believes that their long absence and idea to turn the ranch into a horse farm has jeopardized the ranch Jake has worked so hard to build. She also is in great pain about her seeming inability to conceive the child she so desperately desires.

The ranch is suffering with the drought and the illegal selling of half of their land while men are attacking the Paiute Indians who work and live on the ranch.

I completely devoured this book the moment I had it in my grasp. All the characters, even those secondary to Jess and Jake, are so well developed with such distinct personalities. I love the drive everyone has to make the ranch work and to protect the people who have made it their home against the prejudices and hatred of others. Jess and Jake are incredibly strong characters who fit perfectly together. Jake’s patience and gentle manner perfectly balance out Jess’s stubbornness and outgoing personality.

I loved watching their relationship grow as a married couple. I loved how they dealt with the problems with the ranch and their own inner problems. I also love how faith-filled they both are, never despairing for too long because they knew they were protected in God’s hands.

This is an incredibly compelling book and just as good as the first. There are so many twists and turns and unexpected events to keep a reader interested. The characters are wonderful, and you can’t help but fall in love with them, especially Jake! Though you don’t necessarily have to read Love’s Rescue to read this one, you would be missing out on a great book and the first chapter in the story of Jess and Jake.

The Moonflower Vine

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta CarletonThe Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton is the story of a family living and growing in rural Missouri. Matthew and Callie have four daughters, each one distinct, following a path truly her own. Matthew is a schoolteacher, more than willing to escape into his work and books even if it means his family comes second. Callie is loving, hardworking and wants nothing but the best for her family. Jessica is the tomboy of the family. Leonie is the good girl, wanting nothing more than to please her parents and do what’s right. Mathy is the wild child, not content unless she’s off exploring the world. Mary Jo is the baby of the family, growing up in a time so different from the rest of her sisters.

This is a timeless novel where each character carries a secret burden. Each comes to terms with his or her faults and learns to live with them and sometimes in spite of them.

This was the most realistic novel I have ever read in my life. The characters jumped off the page and became part of this world. As the novel went on Jetta Carleton revealed more and more about her characters from multiple points of view so that each layer was peeled away. This novel was rich with life and so incredibly captivating. I’m so glad I listened to the reviews saying that this book will stick with you because I feel changed by this book, and I know that I will remember it always. Do yourself a favor: go out and read this book. You will not be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t!

Love’s Rescue

Love's Rescue by Tammy BarleyI absolutely loved Love’s Rescue by Tammy Barley! The novel takes place during the Civil War which is mostly in the background of the story. Jessica Hale’s family has recently moved to the Nevada Territory to escape the conflicts arising in Kentucky. But Jessica’s brother Ambrose cannot leave his home so easily and goes back to help his hometown’s militia defend his home. When Jessica loses contact with him, she’ll do anything to find him, but finds herself in the middle of an angry mob who believes her to be sympathetic to the Confederacy when she tries to send a telegram in search of her brother whose militia had joined the South.

Jack Bennett, a rancher, steps in and saves her and later “kidnaps” her and brings her to her ranch to keep her safe from those who mean her harm. Jessica who once thought Jake admirable now thinks him despicable and tries everything she can to escape from him and return to her home. But Jake is not so willing to let her go, not when it could mean he would be losing the woman he is slowly falling in love with.
I couldn’t stop reading this from the moment I picked it up. Jessica is fiery and independent. She is also caring and willing to help those around her. Jake is amazing to say the least. He shows nothing but respect for Jessica and “kidnaps” her not for his own pleasure but to keep her safe. He doesn’t let her escape not because he wants to keep her trapped but because he knows the dangers that she would face as a woman on her own.
Jake and Jessica fit together well, and it doesn’t take too long for them to figure it out. Neither, especially Jessica, are willing to admit it to the other. The characters were incredibly realistic and the story flowed seamlessly. Nothing felt contrived, and everything was revealed in a smooth manner. When I finished the last page, all I wanted was to read more and was more than excited to discover that a sequel is in the making. The instant it comes out, I’ll be enjoying it thoroughly I’m sure!
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