Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sneak Peak: A Beauty So Rare, by Tamera Alexander

I'm really excited about this upcoming release from Tamera Alexander. I haven't read any of her other books, but this one looks promising!! Be sure to watch for my review in the coming weeks! Until then, I'll be posting a few things about this new book, A Beauty so Rare. Here is the trailer for the book and an excerpt from it!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Broken Kind of Beautiful, by Katie Ganshert


From the Publisher:

Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong
Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?
My review:

This book was amazing. I could not put it down; I’m so glad I had the entire day available to sit on my couch and read. I don’t even know where to begin telling you about it.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful is a love story not just between Ivy and Davis, but also of a God who loves us and claims us as His own, no matter how broken we are. Katie tells of God’s redeeming, unconditional love through Ivy’s story primarily, but also through Davis’s, Sara’s, and Marilyn’s.

The book is set in the low country of South Carolina in modern-day and plays out over the course of a couple of months.

Ivy, the result of an affair between her mother and father, has had a rough life. Her father never wanted her, her love wasn’t enough for her broken mother who turned to drugs, her uncle and agent only uses her until she’s no longer useful…  Ivy is only as good as the appearance she keeps up. No one wants real; they just want sexy and that’s the one thing she knows how to give. In a last attempt to save a dying career, her uncle sends her to Greenbrier to model her step-mother’s wedding dress line.

During her time in Greenbrier, Ivy begins to see that there is someone who has loved her almost her whole life – her step-mother. And as she discovers how much Marilyn loves her, despite the fact that she is a child born of her husband’s infidelity, despite the fact that Marilyn has been mocked and ridiculed by friends and family for her love for Ivy, despite the fact that Ivy pushes Marilyn away and rejects her… Marilyn still loves her, and if Marilyn loves her, then maybe the God that Marilyn loves can love her too. As Ivy begins to open her heart to love, she finds that God’s love is enough… but Davis’s is pretty good too!

I loved the characters in this book. The main characters were Ivy, Davis, Marilyn (Ivy’s step-mother, Davis’s aunt), and Sara (Davis’s sister). Each of them were incredibly well-developed. Katie paints pictures for you with her words and I know exactly what each character looks like. There were a few supporting characters that added to the storyline, without being so well-developed that you wanted to know more about them or that you felt like they were insignificant. They were, however, well-developed enough that it’s easy to keep them separate.

I truly loved this book. My heart broke for Ivy’s pain and emptiness and I wanted to shake Davis out of the prison of guilt he wallowed in though the door was wide open for him to walk out. Marilyn and Sara’s strength are inspiring. I cried with the characters during the climax of the book, which to me is exactly what makes it a good book. It’s been a while since a book has made me cry.

I really like that Katie included a short prologue at the end telling what happened to the characters. If I had skipped it and let my imagination take over I would have still known the basics to how it ended, but I love that all of those little lose ends were tied up into a few short paragraphs. Just a little something extra.

This is such an excellent book and it will definitely be on the list of my absolute favorite books that I’ve read this year… Please do yourself a favor and go ahead and pre-order the book. Don’t be cheap like me… you really won’t regret buying this! You don't have to take my word for it... get a sneak peek here.

I want to read Katie Ganshert’s other books now and any future books that she writes!

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

All God's Children by Anna Schmidt

Beth Bridgewater is a German-American living in Germany during WWII. As a teenager, she moved to Germany to help her aunt and uncle with their young daughter and eight years later Beth is still living there. Josef, a medic for the Germany army has returned from the front lines to finished his medical training and has moved in with Beth's family. As the son of a high-ranking Gestapo agent, he has his work cut out for him to earn the family's trust and fight their suspicion that he may be a spy.

Beth and her aunt and uncle are Quakers and do not believe in war. Beth, Uncle Franz, and Joseph (after he earns their trust) eventually unite with the White Rose group and join in their efforts to bring about peace and unity throughout Germany during this dark time. Their involvement is dangerous and places them all at great risk of being charged with treason and sentenced to harsh punishment or even death.

The risk they take eventually does put Josef and Beth in harm's way. As they try to survive, their faith in God, trust in each other, and strength of their love will be tested.


I liked this book a lot! I don't recall having ever read a book from this time period and certainly not one that was set in Germany. I enjoyed the history that was woven seamlessly throughout the story. The characters were interesting and the story was exciting.

The only complaint I have about the book is that Beth and Josef's relationship just sort of happened. Not much of the story was devoted to the unfolding of their relationship and the beginnings of it... they just kind of went from strangers to a couple. I would have liked to have seen this part of the story played out more... not just the beginnings of their relationship but more information all throughout the course of their relationship.

I would recommend this book and I would read more by this author. I was under no obligation to review this book.

Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

Tide and Tempest, by Elizabeth Ludwig

From the Publisher:

Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiance by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she's left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream--to open a home for orphaned children.

Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman's deathbed confession reveals her fiance's demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well--dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiance.

My Review:

Overall Impression – I REALLY loved this book!!!!! I feel like it was well written and it was interesting and I didn’t want to put it down.

Characters – The characters were FANTASTIC!! Sweet Tillie who carries around so much emotional baggage and tries to be so strong and brave, yet is vulnerable and in need of forgiveness and acceptance and someone to lean on. The brooding Captain Morgan who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and takes responsibility for those he loves. He’s quiet and brave, unassuming and humble. I loved him. Charming Cass who, when tested, proves his maturity, yet still manages to remain the fun-loving, charming guy that he is. Each of the main characters were well-developed in their personalities. The author did a fantastic job creating them.

Plot – Very interesting book! This book quickly dove into the story and kept you interested with romance and suspense. The plot came to a wonderful climax and didn’t end too quickly. The author eased into the resolution so that you didn’t feel cheated when you got to the last page. I hate when a book reaches a climax and then is wrapped up too quickly… if you take all that time building up to it, then you need to take the time coming down from it. Elizabeth Ludwig does a great job with that in this book!

I would love to read more books by this author and would absolutely recommend her to friends.

I received an ADVANCED READER COPY from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Visible Threat by Janice Cantore

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

From the Publisher:

Officer Brinna Caruso wants perfection—perfect justice and a perfect world. She wants to save and protect all the innocents in the world, no matter the cost.

Orphaned and struggling to get by, Ivana and her sister left Bulgaria for America with dreams of a better life. But since they arrived in Long Beach, everything they were promised has turned out to be a lie.

After a dead girl is found in the river with a mysterious tattoo on her hip, homicide detective Jack O’Reilly asks for Brinna’s help. Unaware of the depths of evil that will be uncovered, Brinna finds herself flung into a dangerous frontier—an organized human trafficking ring.

My Review:

I enjoyed reading this book. The story was interesting, as well as the characters. That being said, I probably would not read another book by this author. While it was a good book, it wasn’t a GREAT book. I felt like parts of the storyline were over-played without enough change and details to make it worth repeating – such as Brinna’s search for peace and justice and perfection. Perhaps it was over-stated without needing to be. I prefer when a book doesn’t explicitly state the character’s problem, but rather just tells the story and allows you to figure it out for yourself. I feel like if you have to state it repeatedly, then you aren’t telling it well enough through the character’s action. It should be obvious… and don’t state the obvious. After a while Brinna’s “issues” and her love life just got on my nerves.

I also felt like the cover was kind of lame and cheesy.

I don’t feel like the book was a waste of my time. The story turned out okay and it was good enough… but it wasn’t GREAT.