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For the Love of Literature

As a bibliophile, my passion for books coalesces with a love of writing, and writing book reviews allows me to share literature with the world.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Finding Love in Bridal Veil, Oregon - Miralee Ferrell

Schoolteacher Margaret Garvey had her heart broken at the age of sixteen when her beau Nathaniel left town without her. Now, four years later, another tragedy befalls her, followed closely by the arrival of two young runaways in town. In seeking to shelter them, she finds herself in a precarious position, especially when a local man is found murdered. Her situation and her heart become more complicated when Nathaniel returns to town and begins competing with a local logger for her affections. With so many issues arising at once, can she look through the chaos and find God’s peace and plan for her life?

In this sweeping historical novel, Miralee Ferrell creates an exquisite story of love and adventure at the turn of the twentieth century. Craftily manipulating multiple storylines, she gathers them together flawlessly and believably to build an inspirational story that transcends time. With excitement, betrayal, loss, love, and faith, readers of “Finding Love in Bridal Veil, Oregon” will find something for every literary taste, while anticipation for the plot’s resolution will keep the pages turning to the very end.

The Stratemeyer Syndicate and the Battle Over America's Favorite Sleuth

Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand UP - Earl Keleny

Renowned for its prolific publication of children’s series, the Stratemeyer Syndicate entered the publishing world of the early twentieth century as the brainchild of writer and editor Edward Stratemeyer. Stratemeyer’s lifelong love of children’s stories led him to create numerous series, such as The Rover Boys and The Hardy Boys, which captured the imaginations of youth and sought to instill morality and good citizenship. As such, each series fostered by the Syndicate followed Stratemeyer’s formulaic approach and, though penned by ghostwriters, began as an outline set forth by Stratemeyer himself. Upon Stratemeyer’s death in 1930, his daughter Harriet Adams appropriated leadership of the Syndicate and moved forward with her father’s ideas and some of her own—a combination most notably evidenced with the genesis of Nancy Drew. Despite the Syndicate’s overall success as a publishing magnate, its very approach led to controversy over the years, and it is this that Christine Keleny first implements to draw readers into her fascinating work of nonfiction.

“Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up” opens with and is bookended by the 1980 court trial battle between Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Grosset and Dunlap. In between, however, Keleny masterfully takes readers on a historical journey through the lives of the Stratemeyers and their descendants, from the boyhood dream of Edward to Harriet’s carrying the torch years later. Make no mistake, however; this is no dry family history. On the contrary, “Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up” offers a spellbinding account of how some of childhood’s most legendary heroes and heroines came into being, and why they continue to attract audiences even in the twenty-first century. An accompanying bibliography gives readers fodder for additional research as well.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love."

The Nativity Bride (The 12 Brides of Christmas Book 7) - Miralee Ferrell

Leaving Goldendale, Washington at eighteen to pursue a career in woodworking against his father’s wishes, Curt Warren left behind the young girl he loved. Now, five years later, his relationship with his father has not improved, and his prospects in his hometown seem bleak. He still holds love in his heart for Deborah Summers, but her own situation holds her in Goldendale as much as Curt’s keeps him away. Will their love find a way in the season of miracles, or does God have other plans?

In this short, sweet Christian historical romance novella, Miralee Ferrell crafts a compelling, heartfelt story of young love and its obstacles. This tale transcends the confines of time, creating an ageless narrative full of love’s potential. Although a Christmas-themed story, this novella will warm readers’ hearts at any time of the year.

Sweet, Clean, and Nostalgic

Moore Field School and the Mystery - Liam Moiser

“Moore Field School and the Mystery” marks the first story in a new series by Liam Moiser. With a target audience of ages 9-12, this sweet, clean novel is suitable for children and tweens. The main protagonist, Samantha, and her best friend Jessica both attend the Moore Field School in Manchester, England, and Samantha often finds herself causing relatively harmless mischief in her escapades about the boarding school. However, things take on a more serious undertone when the girls and some of their new friends become involved in a crime in progress.

A quaint story with a timeless quality about it, “Moore Field School and the Mystery” is interesting enough to attract young readers without being too frightening, and the inclusion of the local English dialect adds a level of charm. It is reminiscent of both the “Boxcar Children” and “Miss Read” series. The only criticism I would offer is that the conversations often seem contrived due to a lack of contractions; most children would say “I’m thinking” rather than “I am thinking,” for instance, and the behavior of some of the adults was uncomfortably unprofessional. Nevertheless, I would recommend this story to young readers, who will doubtless relate to the fun and adventure-loving Samantha and her friends.

I was given a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Riding High

A Horse for Kate (Horses and Friends) - Miralee Ferrell

Seventh-grader Kate Ferris and her family have just moved to Odell, Oregon, and Kate is less than enthusiastic. However, as she settles into her new home, she begins to realize that perhaps her family’s new situation isn’t as bad as she thought. Living on an old farm seems to be the perfect opportunity for Kate’s dream of getting a horse of her own to come to fruition, but things aren’t always that easy. Kate learns to have patience and faith and discovers that sometimes, even when things work out differently than we’d hoped, God has our best interests at heart.

“A Horse for Kate” is the first book in a new contemporary children’s fiction series by acclaimed Christian author Miralee Ferrell. With a target audience of 9-12-year-olds, this series will nevertheless appeal to readers and horse lovers of all ages. Mild conflict adds excitement and plot-driven tension to the story, while believable and sympathetic characters round out the novel. Furthermore, gentle forays into ethnicity and autism, as well as an interactive afterword section, serve to make this book very apt for modern readers. Fans of such classics as “Black Beauty” and “Misty of Chincoteague” will rejoice to find a new, clean, noteworthy series for readers young and old.

I was given a complimentary pdf copy of this story in return for an unbiased review.

Reblogged from Ann's Book Blog:

I'm so doing this...

Source: http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2015-36071458

An Intriguing Fantasy

Sacrifice: The Dream Guild Chronicles - Book Three: The Dream Guild Chronicles - Book Three - David Bruns

“Just remember, your choices are your prison.”

In this third book in the Dream Guild Chronicles, David Bruns again draws us into the fascinating, interplanetary world of the Sindran refugees. This time, Gideon is the primary protagonist. After crash landing on an unknown planet, the Sindran group finds themselves under attack against the native people. As Gideon becomes involved with the indigenous population, both he and his orb come under threat, and he must figure out not only what they want with him, but also distinguish between his enemies and his allies—if he has any at all.

“Sacrifice” marks a continuation of the Dream Guild series, and as such readers will reap the most from the story by reading its two predecessors first. Fantasy and science-fiction readers will not want to miss this series. This third novel diverges somewhat from the others in its heightened complexity and the use of more adult situations. While clean, there are evident circumstances intended for mature audiences, including the overall theme of sacrifice. One of the many intriguing aspects of the book is Bruns’ use of various aboriginal communities and the interplay between them. Tension and suspense keep the storyline moving at a steady pace, right up to the very last page, and the ending promotes a desire for the continuation of the series.

Come to Me, All You Who Are Weary and Burdened, and I Will Give You Rest

Dreaming on Daisies - Miralee Ferrell

Sometimes love and healing spring up from the most unlikely of places.

At age 23, Leah Carlson has experienced more than her share of heartache. After her mother's death nine years earlier, her father spiraled into alcoholism and her brother fled. Since then, Leah has worked herself to the bone to maintain the family’s ranch and to keep her desolation and fear of abandonment from bubbling over, but her situation is quickly coming to a head, and she must face the truth or risk drowning in the aftermath.

Steven Harding, a relative newcomer to Baker City, Oregon, has a good job at the bank and has overseen the reunion of his family. However, his well-hidden issues of bitterness and loss continue to plague him. Uncertain of what his future holds, he returns to his roots by taking a side job at Pape’s ranch. As he struggles to come to terms with his own past, he realizes that he must begin to determine the direction of his future, as well. Is it possible for the Lord to bring healing and renewal after so many years—and, more importantly, are Leah and Steven prepared to receive it?

In this third novel of the “Love Blossoms in Oregon” series, Miralee Ferrell again demonstrates her uncanny ability to interweave historical fiction with contemporary reality. She illuminates issues that are timeless in their ability to impact and bring hope to the lives of those suffering from the pain of addiction, depression, abandonment, and more, all while building characters who are believable and familiar. “Dreaming on Daisies” can be read as a standalone story, but it does bring the trilogy full-circle and allows readers to see the growth of former characters as they combine seamlessly into a communal whole. This series will bless and inspire all adult readers, offering true compassion, understanding, and ultimately triumph to a world in desperate need. 

Hacking 101

Hacker - Ted Dekker

At age 17, Nyah Parks is a brilliant teenager who uses her intelligence and skills to hack into the firewalls of large corporations and earn an income by making them more secure. In an act of desperation linked to a car accident that occurred two years earlier, Nyah hacks into a multi-million-dollar corporation, initiating a cataclysmic chain of events that disrupts everyone in its wake and raises intriguing questions about life and consciousness.

Once again Ted Dekker delivers with a unique and thoroughly thought-provoking novel. Book three in the “Outlaw Chronicles,” “Hacker” pushes deeper and provides a more stunning and startling experience than its predecessors. Dekker adeptly leads readers on a journey of adrenaline and heart that will invoke tears of both sorrow and joy. “Hacker” is a mixture of “The Fault in Our Stars” and the scientific extrapolations of James Rollins, and despite its rather small size, Dekker packs every page with action and intensity. Be prepared to read some pages multiple times to grasp the scientific concepts that are explored, especially early on in the story, but rest assured that the time investment will pay incredible interests!

And a Child Shall Lead Them

Saving Amelie - Cathy Gohlke

When good people do nothing…

Germany, 1939: Three very different people find themselves in the midst of the Third Reich’s rise, each with their own problems. Rachel Kramer comes to Germany on a business trip with her adoptive father, a United States eugenicist working with Drs. Verschuer and Mengele. She has lived a privileged life among the American and German elite, but soon her idyllic future becomes a nightmare embroiled in the turbulent times. Also in Germany, foreign correspondent Jason Young works to provide the American public with the reality of Hitler’s regime while passing censorship. Meanwhile, Lea Hartman and her loving husband Friederich make a frugal living in the small town of Oberammergau, which is renowned for its decennial Passion Play. A woman’s dying wish changes all of their lives forever, at a time when standing for humanity means defying the SS.

In the vein of “The Sound of Music” and Anne Blankman’s “Prisoner of Night and Fog,” Cathy Gohlke beautifully and soberly orchestrates the inventive storyline of “Saving Amelie.” Told from various third-person points of view, it provides a unique perspective on the World War II narrative. The primary focus is not on Jews but on the overall refugee experience as the novel progresses at an adrenaline-inducing pace with disturbing parallels to modern times. The Christian theme materializes and blossoms in a humble, natural manner, exploring true grace as opposed to “cheap grace” and the consequences that result when good people do nothing. The fortitude of both the fictional and real characters stands as a testament to the men and women who heroically maintained and discovered Christian discipleship during this dark period in history. Appended to the end of the novel are discussion questions and a note from the author. 

Except, Obey, and Serve

The Bees: A Novel - Laline Paull

Accept, obey, and serve. This is the mantra of the hive, the law for life within. Following this simple rule, everything is done for the benefit of the hive, its sisters, and most importantly, its Queen. Each echelon of the hive hierarchy strives to do her part to be industrious and to promote harmony. Flora 717 belongs to the lowest and most humble kin of her hive and would normally spend her days as a sanitation worker, cleaning up after the other bees. However, Flora is anything but ordinary. She seems to change the hive motto to Except, obey and serve. Through a series of events she discovers her aptitude for various other hive jobs, from nursery worker to forager, and as she grows in knowledge, she realizes startling truths about her life and about the future of the hive. Her discoveries lead her to break the cardinal rule, and the most pressing question is what she should do and whether her actions are feats of loyalty or of treachery to herself and to the Queen.

Laline Paull creates a fabulously imaginative and provocative debut novel that resonates with both beauty and horror. Readers see the world and experience life within the hive through the eyes of a worker bee who proves to be extraordinary. Her exceptional rendering of what life as a bee entails causes one to view honeybees in a different light. Borrowing some concepts from Catholicism, she likens the hive experience to a honeybee religion that honors the Queen Mother. The Bees is a thrilling journey through the cycles of a beehive, and through Flora 717 readers experience how one bee’s remarkable life influences and affects those around her. Despite the recognition of individual bees only as members of their kin so that each kin member has the same name, Paull manages to develop several memorable leading characters. Also, while sex is a topic that is discussed in the novel, it is done so for the most part in a thoughtful and non-explicit manner. This story captures the imagination and will have readers holding their breath until the final page.

Saucy Jack is Back

The Devil's Workshop - Alex Grecian

With a "resurrected" Jack the Ripper as a primary character, "The Devil's Workshop" is the darkest and most disturbing installment yet in the "Murder Squad" series. There is plenty of violence, akin in many ways to "Silence of the Lambs," but the focus is on the psychological rather than gore, which makes this work stand out in the historical thriller genre. It is not for the faint of heart, however, with many unexpected twists regarding prominent characters in the series, and the ending leads into book four with much anticipation.

Very Superstitious, Writings on the Orb

Sight: The Dream Guild Chronicles - Book Two - David Bruns

As the sun sets on one epoch in the lives of the Dream Guild group, another rises elsewhere in this intriguing sequel to “Irradiance”. Having fled from their home planet of Sindra, the members of the Dream Guild seek to secure their future by finding new homes for twins Sariah and Gideon. Four months of searching later, during an exploration, they incur an accident with lasting consequences. Sariah feels that her place is with the superstitious, nomadic peoples who inhabit the planet, and although a deal is made, her safety may not be as secure as the ex-Sindrans would like to believe. As she settles into her new life, Sariah encounters difficulties with the clan’s Sacred Mother, who rules the clan with an iron fist.

Danger abounds in “Sight”, book two of The Dream Guild Chronicles, and David Bruns again succeeds in crafting a stimulating, at times breathtaking, story. In contrast to the advanced technology and futuristic mindset of “Irradiance”, “Sight” centers on a clan with a more primitive lifestyle, but this only serves to heighten the intrigue. This book spotlights Sariah’s experiences as she merges her powers and insight with the customs of her new family and begins to fall in love. Allusions to mature material make this appropriate reading for older adolescents, teenagers, and adults who enjoy fantasy and sci-fi writing. In order to fully understand the storyline, it is necessary to first read “Irradiance,” and followers of the series will be anxiously awaiting the next installment, as “Sight” paves the way for book three. While not ending on a nail-biting cliffhanger, there is more than enough plot material put forth to anticipate the next story.

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Those Were the Days

Wild Grapes - William Zink

Come on in and set a spell in Riverton, Ohio. Grab a soda pop and pull up a chair as you listen to Squid Flower Pants narrate the story of her summer of youth. A self-proclaimed “red-blooded American vagabond-wannabe,” Squid and her sister Amanda enjoy the escapades and misadventures of a magical childhood summer with their friends. Whether they’re saving a possum from being “deep-sixed,” experiencing the joy of the carnival, or ruminating on the possibility of ghosts haunting the nearby Indian Mounds, one thing is for certain: the days are long and the fun never ends.

 

For those seeking a nostalgic trip back to the halcyon days of youth or for those still enjoying those happy golden years, “Wild Grapes” by Will Zink is sure to satisfy. The old-fashioned atmosphere of the story belies its contemporary setting, evoking sentimental nostalgia with which every reader can identify. “Wild Grapes” reads like a diary as Squid’s first-person account presents the musings of a 12-year-old girl coming of age and beginning to feel the first pangs of young womanhood. Parts of her story are hyperbolized and made into tall tales, which are more humorous given the Beverly Hillbillies dialect that continues throughout. The only obvious drawback is the general lack of conflict and the use of “‘em” (abbreviated from “them”) for “‘im” (him), as well as a few spelling errors. By and large, however, “Wild Grapes” is a sweetly innocent yet at times startlingly clear depiction of a small-town country childhood on the cusp of maturity.

I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

A Mystical Composition

The Luthier's Apprentice - Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani’s “The Luthier’s Apprentice” is an imaginative short novel composed of elements diverse enough to appeal to a variety
of readers. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Emma Braun discovers that her
beloved violin teacher, Monsieur Dupriez, has disappeared, as have several
other violinists around the world. Determined to emulate her favorite literary
hero, Sherlock Holmes, she sets about investigating, forming new alliances and
uncovering centuries-old secrets about her family’s luthier craft and her aloof
grandfather, to whom she is apprenticed. Suddenly the strange feelings she has
been experiencing and the puzzles associated with her heritage begin to become
startlingly clear, thrusting Emma into a bizarre realm in which all that she
loves becomes endangered.

A mixture of paranormal fantasy and science fiction with a light romantic
element, “The Luthier’s Apprentice” provides enough excitement and mystique to
engage readers without being overtly frightening, and fans of Sherlock Holmes
will appreciate the myriad quotations that Calvani employs. Given the
characters and simple yet descriptive writing, the target audience is young
adult, although older readers will enjoy this story as well. A slight caveat:
there are a few instances of mild profanity during some of the more tense
scenes, and Italian phrases and terms are scattered throughout the story,
although with either an immediate translation or sufficient context clues to
figure out the meaning. Short chapters keep the action moving at a steady pace
so that there are no lulls, and the story does come to a logical conclusion,
although Calvani cunningly leaves the door (or should I say portal?) open for a
sequel.

When Irish Eyes are Crying

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic - Hazel Gaynor

With “The Girl Who Came Home,” Hazel Gaynor
takes readers on an incredible journey through time, exploring how the effects
of one tragic event reverberates for generations. As a seventeen-year-old girl,
Maggie Murphy leaves her home of Ballysheen, Ireland with thirteen others from
her village to travel to America onboard the Titanic. Harry Walsh, a young
steward assigned to the steerage deck, likewise departs from his own hometown
of Southampton, England and does his best to take care of the third-class
passengers—Maggie and her companions among them. As the catastrophic events of
April 14 and 15, 1912 unfold, the lives of each passenger are irrevocably
changed, and Maggie vows never to speak of the ill-fated ship afterward. Until,
that is, her great-granddaughter’s twenty-first birthday—seventy years to the
day that the Titanic sank into the ocean depths. Telling her story at long last
sets into motion a chain of events that will again change lives, perhaps this
time for the better.

Gaynor crafts a poignant and engaging tale sure to delight and mesmerize fans
of historical fiction and light romance. The novel, based on true historical
persons and told partly in epistolary format, develops through a series of
flashbacks and alternates between the years 1912 and 1982, interweaving the
lives of the various characters in an unforgettable saga. Appended to the story
is a section entitled “P.S.”, which includes a short author bio, the story
behind the novel, a glossary of Irish terms with pronunciations, and sixteen
Reading Group Discussion Questions to be pondered after reading the novel in
its entirety.