Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

About the Book:
Author: Jessica Dotta
Publisher: Tyndale House
Publication Date: September 2013 (ARC Book)
Series: Price of Privilege – book 1
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5

Let's start with a confession. As a girl who hasn’t read “Gothic” fiction – or had very little exposure to it, the most prominent name in the genre that comes to mind when calling to mind its singular style are the Bronte sisters. Between the three of them, the genre was proudly represented – albeit often with a tragic outcome. Debuting in the fiction market – and her first novel, this year, Jessica Dotta is bringing a fresh voice to the genre lending a unique perspective and narrative to the young heroine. The story opens with the 17-year-old Julia Elliston arriving at Am Meer, the simple estate is home to Julia's best friend, Elizabeth and her mother Mrs. Windham who attempts to socially control Julia under the guise of  being her “chaperone.” Under the protection of a mysterious “guardian” who is planning to place Julia in a service position in Scotland, Julia make plans of her own in order to rid herself of this faceless stranger but before that can see reality, she is soon caught in the middle of a power struggle she doesn’t understand and becomes a pawn of a woman of the aristocracy – a fragile position that could be her undoing.

During the first fourth of the novel, I have to be honest, I struggled through this. The overview of the book is excellent, it begs a new kind of curiosity and demands attention, yet nothing seemed to go anywhere whereas Julia was a predicament of a character – instead of using the history of Julia’s past to purposely drive the premise, the character seemed never to fully “reveal” herself. Ironically, the first person narrative should facilitate better knowledge of the heroine if no one else, yet Jessica seemed to keep her character’s verbal emotions close, even as her thoughts play across each page – she shifts from sorrow, anger and scared reactions rapidly in those thoughts, but expressing them never verbalizes – it feels like she’s always on the cusp of reacting, but no more. Here is the real – and possibly the only significant failing of the novel, there is a lot of disappointment in repeatedly experiencing Julia’s mute, uninspired reactions. Time and time again, the narrative reads more as if its protagonist were the narrator (sometimes veering off from being “in the present” and suggesting Julia is thinking back on her life instead of living it) rather than a present part of the conversation.

In Jessica’s author note, she recounts her journey to finally publishing this book; it was a story that she branded as “insisting” to be told and really, it’s a grand one. Skillfully written, I was impressed by the period detail and the subtle intrigue – everything we learn is on dubious ground and begs to be questioned. Each subject vacillates between “good” and “evil,” nearly every character is called out by their peers to question their intentions and as a reader, our own trust of these players experiences highs and lows. While reading I wanted to like Julia’s dalliance with Macy – he seemed kind and loving of her in several expressions, then his temper inspires distrust and everything encouraging is torn down. Somewhere between his deceptive charm and tender care of Julia, I wanted to believe there was a good man inside. Considering the end of the book, there are many things to be unresolved and it’ll be grand fun to see what comes next over the spanned trilogy. Readers who enjoy a taste of classic stylized fiction will enjoy this historical tale of intrigue. There was rarely a passage that went by in which I didn’t recognize elements of Jane Austen deftly transitioning into similarities of Gothic Bronte. Jessica cleverly managed this feat – impressively so, any fan of the genre should expect a memorable debut.  
Find the review elsewhere:

Synopsis: The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly. - Goodreads

Coming Next from Jessica Dotta: Synopsis unavailable, coming Summer 2014

Learn more about Jessica Dotta.

Sincere thanks to author Jessica Dotta for providing a complimentary copy of this book. 

Memorable Fiction Couples, Part 2

Monday, July 29, 2013

You may remember back in April, a post showed up chronicling favorite fictional couples inspired by one of the (many) crazy "book conversations" we girls have had in the book community. Putting it together, it was surprising how easy it was to separate the truly “good” couples from the ordinary. After much discussion (which I thank you all for providing!), it seemed like a good idea to write a “part two” of this meme – after all some had to be left out for specific reasons and others I’d not yet had the pleasure of meeting.   

Without further ado, here are some of those favorite pairings - whether it be their sizzling chemistry or more simply how they interacted on the page, the list is below the cut! 

The Words (2012)

Friday, July 26, 2013

When films leave little doubt as to the purpose of their script, that is a compelling sort of tale. Then there are those movies that plant doubt and end on the pinnacle of it – in a sense, that is a story’s own worst enemy. The Words backs itself into a corner, one that may leave the viewer thinking, yet is ultimately more unsatisfying as not. Or is it?

Well known to best seller lists, Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) is reading his latest novel to a crowd of applause – among them is Daniella (Olivia Wilde), a young grad student whose fascination with Clay leads to private conversations about the inspiration behind his book, a book that tells the story of a struggling writer named Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper). Married to his college sweetheart Dora (Zoe Saldana), Rory is about to his limit following rejection letter after rejection until… he finds an old manuscript tucked into the folds of a bag his wife purchased for him while shopping an antique store. Reading the novel, Rory is deeply moved by the story – in the words of the author everything he ever hoped he could be comes alive, and before he can stop himself, he copies the entire book, word-for-word onto his computer where Dora reads it and unaware of its true origins, she encourages her husband to submit the novel.

Within months after its publication under Rory’s name, the book becomes an instant success and the book earns prestigious awards, Rory has finally achieved everything he set out to accomplish. But fame comes with a price… and Rory’s dreams seem to crumble when the truth comes out.  

Until I saw a friend’s recent mention of watching this film, I’d completely forgotten it was one that I’d wanted to eventually rent. Contrary to what the synopsis implies, the story is a bit… complicated. There ends up being three deliberate stories that try to co-exist. Whether or not they ever do is part of the reason the film brands itself more of a quandary than it should have been. Admittedly, the framework is quite good. Telling a story by fictional narrative is interesting and offers new perspective – plus the guessing game is more of an investment. Early on in the film, I was pulled into the plot; interested in what the narrative meant to the story in addition to the curiosity I’d already expected of the protagonists’ life.  

Possibly the best thing about the movie is its cast – in addition to the top billed starts, Jeremy Irons and Ben Barnes also star, each of whom, I thought turned in dynamite performances. Looking beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot to openly compliment. In a word, this entire movie is… weak. Compacted into one package were three stories, none of which felt particularly genuine unfold, there isn’t enough pizzazz for the film to be truly great. There was the soldier who fell in love, experienced heartache and subsequently a life that fell apart. Clay Hammond had material success but bordered on depression, then there is Rory’s life who has the story most worth listening too – and is undoubtedly the most compelling. His ambition and desire to be something beyond his means – or beyond what life had placed in front of him is where the most absorbing part of the script lies. Instead of owning up to the truth, looking his wife in the eye and righting a wrong, he permits the bad (wrong) to overwhelm the good (right). Then, at the peak of his success and acclaim, Rory’s crash course of the consequences his actions will merit is startling. In the aftermath of that, he pursues doing what’s right at the cost of losing all that’s dear to him and it’s gratifying to see him try to rectify his mistakes.  

Visionary in certain scopes of the “layered” drama, the ultimate message is one of sorrow. To top that off, the conclusion isn’t conclusive; it “feels” more like an artsy film than big-Hollywood and while I formed an opinion of what the film meant to impart, there are other takeaways from its abrupt ending. Even in  this doubt the film gifts us, it makes the questions of life seem "human" and challenges us in its own way. That sort of honesty rarely comes along.  In the end, no matter the accolades or wealth, truth should always be what taps us on the shoulder urging our conscious to do the right thing – for Rory, living with his conscious became his own worst enemy.

(Parental concerns: There is one use of the f-word along with scattered other, more minor profanities [h*ll]. Married and unmarried couples passionately kiss in various states of undress and suggestive poses; comments are made to “making love” and a wife teases her husband that he’s “missing out” by continuing to work instead of coming to bed. A man gets drunk and there’s some social drinking. The film is rated PG13.)

Cover Candy: Edition Eleven

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hey, hey! Happy Wednesday, everyone.
I hope you are having a terrific week! Been putting together another edition of cover pretties over the last couple of weeks, so I thought I'd share that with you all today. There isn't as much variety this go-round but we'll hope for more next time! Don't love all of these in this group but each are interesting if nothing else. Got a couple of revised covers and have added in some that weren't released at the publication of "edition ten" last round - so if you missed them, I'm willing to gush over them a second time. Just throwing that out there.
As always, I am not endorsing all of these novels, just admiring their general awesome-ness.
  • You knew this was coming - had to share my friend, Charity's shiny new cover! Love how she put together a sassy, contemporary design for Biblical fiction. Bravo! 
Synopsis: The nightmares began in my childhood…
Since then, they have grown stronger. Horrific dreams of blood and death, of dark specters and betrayal haunt me.
Mother wants me to become a seer in the temple of Minerva. I would much rather marry the dashing military commander, Pilate, instead. Every auger that sees me, fears me. They know, as I do, that something is different about me, something I cannot control, and that will haunt me until a Jewish messiah takes my hand in Judea.
Not even he can save me from what lies ahead in Rome, nor, I fear, can he save Pilate from a choice that will change the course of history forever.
My name is Claudia, and this is my story…
Available Now!
Synopsis: When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is gunned down in a dark parking lot before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning. When she’s finally allowed to return home to break the news to her boys, she hears a voicemail that takes the situation from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack. ‘Mrs. Cole, we know you have access to the supply and the money. If you don’t turn fifty million over to us and give us the codes, then you’ll be burying more family members.’ Suddenly, Juliet realizes that she and her children could be in danger. She teams up with her sisters and PI Michael Hogan to dig into the sham Bob has been living for years. The more she learns, the worse the betrayal. A drug trafficking history, a fortune in cash, and a secret family all emerge to turn Juliet’s belief system on its head, and threaten the things she loves.
Are she and her sisters skilled enough as sleuths to get to the truth?
March, 2014
Synopsis: Nurse Lauren Barclay put her life on hold to keep a watchful eye on her troubled sister. It’s why she’s back in Houston. But that means confronting the brooding physician assistant who caused painful turmoil in her family--and left Lauren with memories her heart can’t forgive.

PA and single parent Elijah Landry is no stranger to stormy relationships, including one with his father, who is threatening him with a restraining order. It won’t stop Eli from protecting his disabled brother--or from making peace with Lauren. He wants that and so much more.

But as Lauren and Eli draw closer, a powerful hurricane roars toward Houston. Survival instincts take priority and everything changes. Can hope weather the storm?
March 2014
Synopsis: Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column.

But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child -- whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle.
March 2014
  • Cute, cute, cute! Love this one whimsical "feel." Plus the plot sounds like it revolves around a bookstore setting - what could be better!? I want this book.

Synopsis: Emma Burcelli has given up on romance. Not just because she's suffered over a decade of dating disasters. Not because her parents' marriage ended on New Year's Eve. No, Emma concludes that love is officially dead when her grandfather Poppi passes away, leaving the last true romantic's other half, Nona Burcelli, devastated.

Emma helps by working in the family's bookstore, which Nona insists must be completely decked out in sweetheart d├ęcor as Poppi would have done for Valentine's Day. Although Emma feels like a V-Day Scrooge, she quickly learns to enjoy the task with the aid of a handsome volunteer and friend of Poppi's, Lane Forester. As Emma spends time with Lane, sharing stories about Poppi, ice skating in the street, and hanging hearts to the tune of Dean Martin, she reconsiders the possibility that romance is alive.
But just as Emma's heart begins to lift she learns her sister has already staked a claim on Lane's affections. Emma's mother and sister insist Lane only sees her as a future sister-in-law, but Emma can't help wondering if it could be something more.
January 2014
  • Even though its totally fan made, isn't this one a stunner!? Hoping that come this winter (when the real deal is likely to be released), the cover won't stray too far from this and the original concepts. 

  • Really like the simplicity in this one!

Synopsis:  It’s senior year, and Whitney Richards is tired of the constant pressures to be perfect. When she gets a D in Calculus, her mother immediately hires a tutor, worried Whitney won’t get into the ‘right’ college—her alma mater—with imperfect grades. Her tutor, Taylor, is a quiet, mysterious boy who is unlike anyone Whitney has met before. But Taylor’s rougher upbringing has her mother and friends discouraging any type of relationship.
Tired of having to play a part for everyone else, Whitney quits the cheerleading squad that once defined her social identity, and begins spending more time with Taylor. Her mom and friends worry Whitney is making a huge mistake, and even Taylor begins to show concern for some of her choices. But for the first time, Whitney is in the driver’s seat of her life. Will she be able to find her identity—and God’s plan for her life—before she throws everything away?
February, 2014
  • Not up to par with Colleen's usual book covers... this one has grown on me.
 Synopsis: When Lilly Donnelly arrives at the Cutlers' famed Butterfly Mansion in 1899, the massive house and unfamiliar duties threaten to overwhelm her. Victorian Austin is lavish, highly political, and intimidating, but with the help of the other servants, Lilly resolves to prove herself to her new employers.
Then, while serving at an elegant dinner party, Lilly recognizes one distinguished guest as Andrew, the love of her life, who abandoned her without a word back home. He seems to have assumed a new identity and refuses to acknowledge her, leaving her confused and reeling.

Before Lilly can absorb this unwelcome news, she’s attacked. Could it be the sinister Servant Girl Killer who has been terrorizing Austin? Or is it someone after something more personal—someone from her past?
Does she dare trust Andrew to help or is he part of the danger threatening to draw Lilly into its vortex?
January 2014
  • Too cute! I adore the font and quirkiness of the "of" being off to the right - and the shading. It's lovely!
Synopsis: Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
December 2013
Synopsis: Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there's only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.
Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother's best friend really be?
Tails: The theater geek...with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart's interests--even if he wants to share all his feelings?
Heart's simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all...
March 2014
  • I like that this cover is "cuter" and more approachable than most Civil War era novels.
Synopsis: Emily Harrison's life has been turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempted to continue her parents' work as conductors in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm was sold in foreclosure. Now alone, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor's family in slave-holding Virginia. Perhaps she can continue her rescue efforts from there.

Alexander Hunt is the doctor's handsome nephew. While he does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle's newest employee, he cannot take time to pursue Emily. Alex is not at all what he seems--rich, spoiled, and indolent. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a Quaker leader of Rebel partisans. A man of the shadows, he carries no firearm and wholeheartedly believes in Emily's antislavery convictions.

The path before Alex and Emily is complicated and sometimes life threatening. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger to both of them. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they find faith in God amid the challenges they face and trust in the possibility for a bright future together?
January 2014
  • Please say I am not the only one who finds this title a bit troubling!?
  • Oh. My. Word. So... everyone, what do we think of this one?! Not sure it "works" quite the same as book one (which was GORGEOUS), but this one is pretty also. As Rel pointed out, the red background on the heart should be swapped out (perhaps for a white or blue shade...?), however I am fond of the bare feet and how she is clutching the dress.
Synopsis: Regina Beswick is all about restoring old cars. But when Tanner Burkhardt asks her to restore an old nation, she must decide which destiny to follow. Regina Beswick never dreamed of faraway places. She is happy with her life as a classic car mechanic and owner of a local restoration shop. But the fairytale book, drawn by her great-grandma, makes her wonder if she’s destined for greatness.
Tanner Burhardt, Minister of Culture for Hossenberg, believes Miss Beswick is the least likely candidate to be his country’s long-lost princess. It’s up to him to transform the strong-willed Southern girl into a reigning royal if he wants to save his nation. As Regina and Tanner return to Hessenberg to fulfill their destinies, Regina quickly learns that someone playing princess isn’t what’s needed. This is a full-time role for a nation on the brink of financial destruction.
Unprepared for the responsibilities of running a country, Regina must look deep into herself and trust God if she is to fulfill her true destiny.
February, 2014
  • This one is GORGEOUS. Mostly.
Synopsis: Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom—all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.
Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her. As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. But even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, could she refuse her duty to kill him?
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny
January 2014
  • Can we say, CREEPY!?

Synopsis: A high concept, cinematic read with a surprising twist, MINDERS asks the question: who is really watching who?

Q: If the boy you love commits a crime, would you turn him in?

Sadie Ames is a type-A teenager from the wealthy suburbs. She's been accepted to the prestigious Mind Corps Fellowship program, where she'll spend six weeks as an observer inside the head of Ford, a troubled boy with a passion for the crumbling architecture of the inner city. There's just one problem: Sadie's fallen in love with him.

Q: What if the crime is murder?

Ford Winters is haunted by the murder of his older brother, James. As Sadie falls deeper into his world, dazzled by the shimmering pinpricks of color that form images in his mind, she begins to think she knows him. Then Ford does something unthinkable.

Q: What if you saw it happen from inside his mind?

Back in her own body, Sadie is faced with the ultimate dilemma. With Ford's life in her hands, she must decide what is right and what is wrong. And how well she can really ever know someone, even someone she loves.

January 2014
  • In like with this one. Big time. The graduated coloring for the back drop, the silhouette look of the characters (can I just say how cool I think that trend is!?) and title spacing. Everything is seamless.   
Synopsis: Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.

Even when she isn't sure what to say.

Even when Olivia misses months of school.

Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia's crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.
March 2014
Synopsis: For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.
But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How can she know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?
February 2014

  • This is a revised cover art of Karen's latest novel - see the first one way back in the seventh edition of this meme, what do you all think?
Synopsis: Zack Dylan has a dream. He wants to sing on the biggest stages, for the biggest crowds, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make it come true. But Zack also made a promise to his college sweetheart when he left Kentucky to compete on the popular TV show Fifteen Minutes: If he made it, nothing would change him or his faith in God.
Overnight, Zack becomes the nation’s most popular contestant, a country singer comparable to a young Tim McGraw. As his star rises, Zack is often asked to compromise and quiet his beliefs. Just as he’s on the verge of winning it all, his choices lead him to the brink of personal disaster. Meanwhile, a former Fifteen Minutes winner is searching for meaning amidst her own private losses. Can she warn Zack about the real price of fame? Or will Zack lose everything he loves for his fifteen minutes of glory?

  • This one has been floating around a while, but I love the shades and somehow didn't get around to sharing it in the last edition. Wish the post was a bit different (her head lines up with the pinnacle of the distant building), yet it's still gorgeous.
Synopsis: Bright, sensible Patience knows what is expected of her. At twenty-five, her opportunity for a family of her own has passed, so she finds contentment teaching at her father’s school for girls. When her father dies suddenly and her brother moves away to London, she is determined to keep her father’s dream alive.
Confirmed bachelor William Sterling also knows what is expected of him, but mistake after mistake has left him teetering on ruin’s edge. As master of Eastmore Hall he owns a great deal of land but possesses little money to manage the upkeep. He is desperate to find a new source of income, including the sacrifice of land connected to Rosemere.
When her brother returns with a new wife to take over management of the school, Patience is heartbroken to no longer be responsible for her beloved school and is forced to reassess God’s purpose for her life. After her sister-in-law’s matchmaking brings Patience and William together, they both learn new truths about their character and find a common goal in restoring  Eastmore’s legacy.

December 2013
  • Yes, this book was already spotlighted here, however, given it's late release, it was put into the mix well after "edition ten" was published. As a result, here's another chance to gush over its cuteness and picture perfect representation of Allison.
  • Note as eye-catching as book one, Anomaly, this series continues to intrigue. Love the reflection on her mask. (Plus why on earth did I think this wasn't coming until July!? *embarrassed*)
Synopsis: She was an anomaly with a death sentence. Now she's free.
Thalli was scheduled for annihilation. She was considered an anomaly—able to experience emotions that should have been eradicated by genetic modification. The Scientists running the State couldn’t allow her to bring undue chaos to their peaceful, ordered world. But seconds before her death, she is rescued.

Now Thalli is above ground in a world she thought was destroyed. A world where not even the air is safe to breathe. She and her three friends must journey across this unknown land, their destination a hidden civilization. It's their only chance of survival.

Broken and exhausted after an arduous journey, they arrive in New Hope, a town that survived the nuclear holocaust. When Thalli meets the people there—people actually born to families—her small world is blown wide open.

Soon after their arrival to New Hope, the town comes under attack. She has escaped imminent death, but now Thalli is thrust into a new fight—a fight to save her new home. Does she know enough about this world of emotions, this world of chaos, to save not only herself, but the people she has come to love?

January 2014
  • The sky and colors of this, oh my! I adore it.
Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now . . . not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.
And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them . . .

August 2013

Synopsis: Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.
Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.
When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
January 2014

Synopsis: Cass and Luca are fugitives, on the run from the law and the deadly Order of the Eternal Rose. As they separate to pursue the only evidence that could save them, their worlds—and their romance—are torn apart by spiteful friends and murderous enemies.

When Cass finds herself ensnared in the Order’s twisted plot, Falco emerges once again as her only hope for freedom. But it turns out Luca has a shocking scheme of his own.

From ancient mercenaries to sly magicians, from clever courtesans to vengeful killers, no one can be trusted. In the breathtaking conclusion to the Secrets of the Eternal Rose trilogy, Cass must confront the Order and once and for all decide her destiny. Who will fly beside her when she finally finds her wings?

March 2014

Synopsis: Readers everywhere are clamoring for books like Downton Abbey, the hit PBS Masterpiece Theater series that's taken America by storm. Those readers have become enthusiastic about The Danforths of Lancashire by award-winning author Murray Pura.

In this stunning conclusion to the saga, we find Lord Preston and his family are gathered in London in the late 1930s for what turns out to be a homecoming.  The family is finally all together again, gathering in a way they haven't been able to do for years. But looming ahead is the summer and fall of 1940 when both the Battle of Britain and the Blitz will occur.  Though the family is blissfully unaware of this soon-to-be reality, Lord Preston, privy to top secret info in his position in the government, has grave concerns; the gravest he's ever had, that England will be invaded.  The Danforth family patriarch does his best to hide his fears with a cheerful exterior, but is he successful?

February 2014
  • Here's the cover of Leila' s second novel without being tagged. Much better.  
Synopsis: London is a whirl of balls and teas, alliances and rivalries. Rose has never felt more out of place. With the Season in full swing, she can't help but still feel a servant dressed up in diamonds and silk. Then Rose meets Alexander Ross, a young Scottish duke. Rose has heard the rumors about Ross's sordid past just like everyone else has. Yet he alone treats her as a friend. Rose knows better than to give her heart to an aristocrat with such a reputation, but it may be too late.
Ada should be happy. She is engaged to a handsome man who shares her political passions and has promised to support her education. So why does she feel hollow inside? Even if she hated Lord Fintan, she would have no choice but to go through with the marriage. Every day a new credit collector knocks on the door of their London flat, demanding payment for her cousin William's expenditures. Her father's heir seems determined to bring her family to ruin, and only a brilliant marriage can save Somerton Court and the Averleys' reputation.
Meanwhile, at Somerton, Sebastian is out of his mind with worry for his former valet Oliver, who refuses to plead innocent to the murder charges against him--for a death caused by Sebastian himself. Sebastian will do whatever he can to help the boy he loves, but his indiscretion is dangerous fodder for a reporter with sharp eyes and dishonorable intentions.
January 2014

Synopsis: In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.
Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
September 2013

February 2014
  • Last Cover Candy post, this one was late to the party, but I had to share it a second time considering it's from one of my VERY favorite authors. Love Janice's writing and although the editing could have been a bit sharper, this cover captures the essence of Janice's style.
  • Squeee! In love with this one. It matches the first in the series beautifully plus has undergone a name change. Cannot wait for April and the lovely Eden's story!
Synopsis: Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen’s cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits—and starting to fear she doesn’t have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.

Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior—on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he’s getting from Eden Christiansen isn’t making things any easier. But when Owen’s carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.
April 2014

  • Interesting. Like this one. The colors and cool overlay. Yeah, it works.
February 2014 

  • Added this one post publishing the last "Cover Candy" edition. It bears a second spotlight. So pretty and classy - plus it's just lovely to see Beth White writing again. Some of you may know her as Elizabeth White.
  • This one is quite eye-catching. The "cool hues" and vivid blue eyes add to that effect.
Synopsis: The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.
February 2014
Synopsis: Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.

An unforgettable read from the acclaimed author of The Probability of Miracles, The Museum of Intangible Things sparkles with the humor and heartbreak of true friendship and first love.
April 2014

Synopsis: Louisiana, 1890--Sarah Louise "Sadie" Callum is a master of disguise, mostly due to her training as a Pinkerton agent but also from evading overprotective brothers as she grew up. When she takes on a new assignment with international connections, she has no idea her new cover will lead her on the adventure of a lifetime.
Undercover agent William Jefferson Tucker is not looking for marriage--pretend or otherwise--but his past is a secret, his twin brother has stolen his present, and his future is in the hands of the lovely Sadie Callum. Without her connections to the world of upper-crust New Orleans, Jefferson might never find a way to clear his name and solve the art forgery case that has eluded him for years.
Only God can help these two secret agents find a way to solve their case and uncover the truth about what is going on in their hearts.
February 2014

Now, it's your turn!
What do you all think. Found any new favorites?
Let's gush over these in the comments, shall we?

Downton Abbey, Season Four Photos

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Because I couldn't resist...
We'll let the photos do the talking.

Wish there were more to share!
But I have to be honest; these made their point. Consider my excitement for season four stirred!

Upside Down (2012)

I sincerely think this movie meant to be better than it was. The concept was there, writers just didn't use the idea to its fullest potential. 
Young Adam grew up in an orphanage where the only good thing about his life were the weekend visits to his aunt’s home until the day he meets Eden. The two children forge a friendship and grow up meeting in secret.  Little do either of them realize what their blossoming romance means; it's one that challenges two very different universes, their love has a complication beyond just being from opposite twinned worlds – the two live on opposite universes. While Eden (Kristen Dunst) grew up in an affluent world with endless possibilities, Adam (Jim Sturgess) comes from “below,” the world underneath Eden’s where poverty is the common and the poor struggle to survive. The world directly above theirs is a place that pulls in the opposite direction with its own gravity. 

Discovery of the two meeting in secret leads to ten years of separation and Adam’s belief that Eden has died. When Adam learns that Eden is working for the one company where both races can co-exist, he attempts the impossible – reuniting with Eden.

 If we cinephiles ask for fresh, snappy ideas which contradict the humdrum normalcy of romantic dramas, then those set in a futuristic world should feel pressure to bring their a-game every time. Stumbling onto this movie was as the result of a familiar cast, beyond that, the plot actually did inspire curiosity. Now, it’s finally on DVD (the film fluctuated between being a limited theater release or a direct-to-DVD title), I was glad to have the chance to rent the movie. During the narrative opening, I was cautionary and optimistic. Adam’s tale of woe sets up his backstory plus shares the reasons behind the universe he and Eden live in. The silly drama made me wince and yet I was still curious to see if or how the dystopian movie could impress, while seeing it through to completion.  

Playing with our imagination, in its conceptual stages, this story seems like it’d have been, admittedly quite good. It could have been pegged as a Romeo and Juliet like story that threw a loop in by not just dividing classes, also a twinned world division. Reminiscing on the film, throughout the runtime, my one wish could be summed up to have experienced “more” from the script in addition to wanting that for it. Upside Down could have been an interesting, unique curiosity. Instead it works against itself as a viewer painfully watches the googly-eyes (add in his atrocious hair and we’ll just say I am not a fan of the dude) Adam makes at lady love, Eden and eventually the sappiness of its ending. There were some good things about the movie. It didn’t bore me and I found in interesting that the characters names were Adam and Eden, mere coincidence? Probably not.  Given it takes place in two opposite worlds, but within that a “forbidden” relationship unfolds, all these subjects only further cements whatever subtleties the script may wish to communicate pulling from a Biblical perspective. Also playing an interesting role in the script is Adam’s work to create a cream that results in ageless beauty and his ceaseless desire to find the right formula to be able to physically be reunited with Eden. Digging deeper, I suspect these covert references aren’t accidental.  

Upside Down isn’t great. But flipping that over and examining some of its intricacies reveals it’s an interesting piece of filmwork. There are some gorgeous frames (like the ending scene) and some dizzying shots (such as the entire film’s spliced two frames of the two worlds), and of course the two opposite gravity universes ups the intrigue. Though it was an entertaining film, it’s not one I’ll be likely to watch again. To its credit, it is also relatively clean and it was nice to see Kristen Dunst in something again, beyond that, everything was forgettable. 

(Rated PG13, parental review; there are some minor “tense” moments when a woman is taken away by force from her home – viewers never learn what happened to her, but suggestions imply it wasn’t good. Men chase characters with weapons and fire on those who are fleeing. Characters kiss and there is an implication [unseen] that they slept together. There may be a minor profanity.)

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble

Saturday, July 20, 2013

About the Book:
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2013
Series: A Hope Beach Novel - book 2
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Christian
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Review: Any visit to Hope Beach is one to be treasured. The small town setting is a piece of cozy comfort featuring equally personable characters. Rosemary Cottage is another charming story of faith and family – it’s a heartfelt novel that doesn’t seem to forget the people of the story. In fans second journey to the nestled island – one that’s name is woven into the very fabric of each story, we meet Amy Lang, a young woman who defied her influential father’s wishes that she become a doctor and instead choses a more fulfilling line of work as a midwife. Connected to the past of her now deceased brother – through ties Amy isn’t ready to face, she reconnects with Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland whose own sister died two short weeks prior to Amy’s brother Ben. When Amy begins to suspect that her bothers death was no accident, her findings point in ominous directions that Amy nor Curtis, may not be prepared to face. Following in the tradition of Colleen Coble’s prior novels, her latest is a story of pasts riddled with secrets.

Colleen has a knack for writing characters that are easy to like and are memorable figures in inspirational fiction. Another one of her trademarks is the presence of a child or children, and ‘Rosemary’ introduces us to Raine, the adorable one-year-old niece of Curtis. The existence of a child turns out to have multiple reasons in this story though none more compelling than how much Curtis loves the little girl and the care he puts into raising the child. Having this characteristic gives readers a deeper look into Curtis as a person – he loves deeply and defends anyone he loves to a fault. He and Amy share this in common. Both of them loved their siblings and find it unfathomable to believe the worst, however one of the books minor flaws is the arguments between Amy and Curtis; their blind belief in family isn’t a “bad” thing, rather it’s how they transfer those doubts and questions onto each other that makes me disappointed. Once the two of them make the decision to uncover the shadowy secrets in the past, they rarely walk away without anger. This also carries into the ending which was, admittedly not paced very well. A handful of chapters lead up to the climax and in one short chapter, everything is resolved – not only does the danger pass, Amy sheds her protective skin and lays her heart bare when she realizes the depth of her feelings for Curtis, the secret she protected from him for the entire book suddenly comes rushing out and all while they are concerned over the fate of a loved one. Had the crux of the suspense in the final fourth of the book ended prior to the last chapter or there been an epilogue, the pacing wouldn’t have been as limiting or as “convenient” as it did.  

That being said, this girl still loved Rosemary Cottage. More romantic than its predecessor, all of the characters were hiding from something in their own way - each in need of healing and the comfort only He can bring. Catching up with Libby and Alec was a treat and I was impressed how effortlessly Amy’s work was woven into the story. Being from a family who doesn’t use medical care needlessly, it was interesting to read about her healing herbs and the natural remedies she believed were better for health reasons and fortunately, never is the subject over used or abused. Since the topic of “healers” is often one of debate, its subtly is one to appreciate. Really, the entire book was beautifully written and once again, it boasts a pretty neat hero, which of course, has nothing to do with him being a Coast Guard officer who puts his life on the line to save others. Possibilities are endless over who the next book could be about and I know I am one reader who is anxious to know if they'll be a book three.

Skillfully written in care amidst a nurturing, healing environment with persuasive underpinnings of mystery that is sure to keep readers guessing, Coble’s story is a charming summer read not to be missed!

Synopsis: The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to mourn her brother, Ben. She’s even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It’s always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben’s disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to wonder.

Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland has lost a sibling too. His sister, Gina, was run down by a boat, leaving him to raise her infant daughter. If anyone knew who little Raine’s father was, Curtis could lose his beloved niece. Yet he can’t help being drawn to Hope Beach’s new midwife, Amy. He even agrees to help her investigate what happened to both Ben and Gina.

Can two grieving people with secrets find healing on beautiful Hope Island? Or will their quest for truth set them at odds with each other…and with those who will go to any length to keep hidden things hidden? - Gooreads
Coming Next from Colleen Coble: When Lilly Donnelly arrives at the Cutlers' famed Butterfly Mansion in 1899, the massive house and unfamiliar duties threaten to overwhelm her. Victorian Austin is lavish, highly political, and intimidating, but with the help of the other servants, Lilly resolves to prove herself to her new employers. Then, while serving at an elegant dinner party, Lilly recognizes one distinguished guest as Andrew, the love of her life, who abandoned her without a word back home. He seems to have assumed a new identity and refuses to acknowledge her, leaving her confused and reeling.

Before Lilly can absorb this unwelcome news, she’s attacked. Could it be the sinister Servant Girl Killer who has been terrorizing Austin? Or is it someone after something more personal—someone from her past?

Does she dare trust Andrew to help or is he part of the danger threatening to draw Lilly into its vortex? - via Goodreads, January 2014

Sincere thanks to Litfuse and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purpose.

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