Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sons of An Ancient Glory...Review

About the book:
In Book Four of her bestselling The Emerald Ballad Series, BJ Hoff continues to build the drama and excitement of her sweeping mid-19th century Irish American saga. In Ireland, poet, patriot, and schoolmaster Morgan Fitzgerald is locked in conflict with his closest friend’s rebel son—who steals the heart of Morgan’s adopted daughter. Among the streets of New York, Pastor Jess Dalton and his feisty wife, Kerry, continue to battle against poverty and persecution while taking the Gospel to both the powerful and the poor of the city. Readers will be swept into an epic tale of life and death, heartache and victory, all the while revealing the ancient, enduring glory of an entire people.

The Fitzgerald, Whittaker and Burke families return in Book 4 of The Emerald Ballad series, along with some new additions.  Tierney has gone to Ireland to see Morgan and, true to form, finds trouble.  Morgan and Evan await the births of their children even as tragedy strikes and a young one is lost.  With the additions of Quinn and Billy especially, the story broadens and deepens.  It is a story about the strength of people who are undeterred in the face of adversity and who find those reserves of faith when everything seems bleak.  BJ Hoff has a remarkable way of showing us that God really does know his children individually.

Full of Irish history and with steadfast, unforgettable characters, epic is the perfect word to describe this series. I am anxious to read the last book, and to find out what happens to everyone. 
Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Land of a Thousand Dreams...Review

About the book:
In Book Three of BJ Hoff’s bestselling Emerald Ballad saga set near the middle of the 19th century, Irish patriot Morgan Fitzgerald, felled by a gunman’s bullet, strives to restore his life and reclaim his future. But even as he takes steps to provide a home for Belfast orphan Annie Delaney and nurture his love for the beautiful, mute Finola, he finds himself again locked in a fierce battle with the powers of darkness.

In America, Morgan’s friends Michael Burke and Nora Whittaker discover that the “Land of Opportunity” also teems with poverty, injustice, and corruption. From the opulence of Fifth Avenue to the squalor of the city’s slums, he fights against not only the evil running riot through the streets, but the immoral schemes of an old enemy bent on destroying Michael, the woman he loves, and his only son.

Readers will be mesmerized by a drama that spans an ocean, taking them on a journey of faith and love that encompasses the dreams of an entire people seeking not only survival, but a land of hope where they can live in freedom and peace.

Book 3 of the Emerald Ballad series does not disappoint.  Like the first two, it moves easily between New York and Ireland.

Michael plans to bring down Patrick Walsh, even as his wife Sara and Evan Whittaker befriend Patrick's wife Alice.  Alice is completely ignorant of Patrick's illegal and immoral activities and as she finds herself spending more and more time in the slums of New York, it's inevitable that she will discover that her husband isn't the honorable man she believes him to be.

However, I think it's more Morgan's story than any one else's.  Even amidst trial and heartache, Morgan finds a family, and hope for his future.  Finola's story fleshes out a bit and Annie starts coming into her own. 

The story has its sad moments, but this is an enthralling story about the goodness of people and how the light of Christ that shines through people can help and influence so many.

Captivating and easily recommended.  I'm looking forward to the remainder of the series.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can purchase your own copy here.

* * * *
4 Stars

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Perfectly Invisible...Review

About the book:
It's Daisy Crispin's final trimester of high school, and she plans to make it count. Her long-awaited freedom is mere months away, and her big plans for college loom in the future. Everything is under control. Or is it? Her boyfriend is treating her like she's invisible, and her best friend is selling bad costume jewelry in the school quad—and hanging out with her boyfriend. To top it off, Daisy's major humiliation for the year will be remembered in the yearbook for all eternity. It's enough to make her wonder if maybe being invisible isn't so bad after all.

With more of the funny-but-too-true writing readers have come to expect from Kristin Billerbeck,
Perfectly Invisible shows teen girls that everyone is special—no matter what they're going through.

This is a sequel to Perfectly Dateless which I haven't read.  I don't know if it is intended to stand alone, but there are references to past events and I always felt like I was missing something.  I never connected with any of the characters and quite frankly, didn't even like them. I couldn't understand Daisy and Claire's friendship, especially since Claire isn't even very nice to Daisy. The book is full of high school drama and the Christian elements are light.  Perhaps I'm just too old for Teen/YA books now.  I don't know.

Still, I think that fans of Kristin Billerbeck will probably enjoy this, especially if they've read Perfectly Dateless.  It was cute, but not one I ultimately enjoyed. 

Available July 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.  Thanks to Donna at Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Kristin Billerbeck here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

* *
2/5 Stars

Monday, July 25, 2011

Next to Love...Review

About the book:
A story of love, war, loss, and the scars they leave, Next to Love follows the lives of three young women and their men during the years of World War II and its aftermath, beginning with the men going off to war and ending a generation later, when their children are on the cusp of their own adulthood.

Set in a small town in Massachusetts, the novel follows three childhood friends, Babe, Millie, and Grace, whose lives are unmoored when their men are called to duty. And yet the changes that are thrust upon them move them in directions they never dreamed possible—while their husbands and boyfriends are enduring their own transformations. In the decades that follow, the three friends lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places. And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which feminism, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities—and uncertainties. And yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.

Beautifully crafted and unforgettable,
Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.

I've seen so many reviews of this book that just rave about it and give it the highest praise and once again, I am going to be in the minority and go against the popular opinion.  The premise of the story is terrific: three women thrust into the struggle and stress of World War 2 are left alone when their husbands go off to fight.  When the war ends, life goes on and America and its people are changed forever.

The novel is rich historically and provides a perspective of World War 2 that is interesting: what happens to those left behind and how does everyone adapt when the war is finally over?  And, while there are moments of drama and heartache, the story itself was disappointing and rather lackluster. Present tense narration is always frustrating to me and I don't think it helped the story.  Why do authors write in present tense anyway?  I have yet to read a book written in the present tense where that tense actually made the book better. I think, in part, it was the narrative that kept me from connecting with the characters and ultimately I felt it was a story that tried too hard to please. 

My opinion though, as is often the case, is in the minority and you will find many positive reviews from the list below.

Thanks to Lisa at TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Ellen Feldman here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Monday, June 6th:  Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, June 8th:  Heart 2 Heart Reviews
Tuesday, June 14th:  Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, June 15th:  Books Like Breathing
Thursday, June 16th:  Deb’s Book Bag
Monday, June 20th:  Acting Balanced
Thursday, June 23rd:  Life in Review
Monday, June 27th:  Girls Gone Reading
Tuesday, June 28th:  BookNAround
Wednesday, June 29th:  A Fair Substitute for Heaven
Tuesday, July 5th:  Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, July 7th:  Book Reviews by Molly
Monday, July 11th:  girlichef
Wednesday, July 13th:  Melody & Words
Monday, July 18th:  The House of the Seven Tails
Tuesday, July 19th:  Rundpinne
Wednesday, July 20th:  Man of La Book
Monday, July 25th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Tuesday, July 26th:  Simply Stacie
Wednesday, July 27th:  Colloquium
Monday, August 1st:  Books and Movies
Tuesday, August 2nd:  That’s What She Read
Wednesday, August 3rd:  Book Addiction
Thursday, August 4th:  Sophisticated Dorkiness
Monday, August 8th:  Alison’s Book Marks
Tuesday, August 9th:  Library of Clean Reads
Wednesday, August 10th:  Broken Teepee

Read 7/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shadows on the Sand...Review

About the book:
She serves him breakfast at her café every morning...but he never seems to notice her.

Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals...although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries...and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all to present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.

Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?

While they've known each other a long time, Greg and Carrie are drawn to each other when Greg begins helping Carrie attempt to figure out mysteries occurring with her staff.  Murder, a mysterious religious cult and twittering senior citizens make for an interesting and entertaining story.  Add Greg's and Carrie's respective pasts and baggage and you have Shadows on the Sand. But, put it all together and it works.  The plot moves along well and I enjoyed watching Greg and Carrie come to terms with their feelings for each other.

The book was a bit heavy on the whole social networking scene.  I don't twitter so I don't follow people and the idea that Seaside community was so interconnected via Twitter was interesting.  Somewhat implausible, but then again, I'm not part of that scene, so I have little understanding about it. 

I did wish for more details/depth about Carrie's relationship with her Mom.  I wanted to know what had happened to her Mom during their separation and what turned her around?  As this is apparently the first in a series, hopefully we will learn more back story as the series progresses.

An entertaining read.  I look forward to more from Gayle and Seaside.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Waterbrook Multnomah Books for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Gayle Roper here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Dream...Review

The first book in the Seasons of the Heart series is set in Connecticut in 1888, the year of what historians call “The White Hurricane.” The story reveals the power of God’s love to change lives and heal hearts. Summer Dream tells of a young couple’s love for each other and the obstacles that stand in their path of happiness. Until Nathan Reed resolves his anger with God and his family, he has no hopes of courting Rachel Winston, the minister’s daughter.

As the daughter of a small-town minister in Connecticut, Rachel Winston believes the only way she’ll ever have a husband is to visit her aunt in Boston for the social season until Nathan Reed arrives in town. Although attracted to Rachel, Nathan avoids her because he has no desire to become involved with a Christian after experiences with his own family. When a devastating blizzard paralyzes New England, Nathan is caught in it and lies near death in the Winston home. Through the ministrations and tender care of Rachel and her mother, Nathan learns a lesson in love and forgiveness that leads him back to his home in the South. Before he can declare his love for Rachel, he must make amends with his own family. Will he return to Connecticut before Rachel leaves her home to head west as a missionary in Oklahoma Territory?

Rachel is drawn to Nathan, an unbeliever with a haunted past.  Being a preacher's daughter and strong in her faith, she knows that their future is uncertain until Nathan can come to terms with his past and his anger at God.

The story is fairly predictable and our characters discover that God knows and loves them.  My main complaint was the language.  The dialogue was very stilted and formal and conversations didn't flow naturally.  Still, it's a sweet Christian romance with likeable characters. A nice clean story.

I liked Summer Dream, but I didn't love it. I loved Martha Roger's Winds Across the Prairie series.  I didn't like the first book as much as the rest of that series and I hope that is what is happening here. That the subsequent books will be better than the first. I do look forward to more.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Charisma Media for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more abut Martha Rogers here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Violets of March...Review

About the book:
A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line,
The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

After signing her divorce papers, Emily leaves New York for Bainbridge Island in Washington, home of favorite childhood memories and her beloved great-aunt Bee.  Desiring peace of mind and inspiration for a new story, Emily discovers a diary written in 1943.  As she reads it and learns Esther's story, she also discovers secrets about her own family relationships. 

While I wish there had been more development between Jack and Emily, I enjoyed seeing them get to know each other.  As she searches for answers, Emily meets a range of delightful people and along the way, as past meets present, finds herself.

What should have been cliched and predictable was, instead, a captivating novel and one I couldn't put down and didn't want to end.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this story.   I look forward to more from Sarah Jio. 

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Year with Eleanor...Review

About the book:
After losing her high-octane job as an entertainment blogger, Noelle Hancock was lost. About to turn twenty-nine, she'd spent her career writing about celebrities' lives and had forgotten how to live her own. Unemployed and full of self-doubt, she had no idea what she wanted out of life. She feared change—in fact, she feared almost everything. Once confident and ambitious, she had become crippled by anxiety, lacking the courage required even to attend a dinner party—until inspiration struck one day in the form of a quote on a chalkboard in a coffee shop:

"Do one thing every day that scares you."
—Eleanor Roosevelt

Painfully timid as a child, Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated herself to facing her fears, a commitment that shaped the rest of her life. With Eleanor as her guide, Noelle spends the months leading up to her thirtieth birthday pursuing a "Year of Fear." From shark diving to fighter pilot lessons, from tap dancing and stand-up comedy to confronting old boyfriends, her hilarious and harrowing adventures teach her about who she is, and what she can become—lessons she makes vital for all of us.

While the book sounded fascinating, my first reaction was that it would be an excuse to capitalize on the whole, I'm-going-to-do-something-related-to-someone-famous-and-then-write-a-book-about it thing.  I had no idea who Noelle Hancock was when I started reading this book.  I don't follow celebrity/gossip blogs or magazines.  I don't read US Magazine in print or online.  I don't even watch television, so I don't always recognize celebrities anyway. 

I was so happy to find this to be an engaging and inspiring memoir.  Noelle is honest in admitting her fears and her faults.  So much of what she writes, I can relate to and understand.  I was once confident, but often I now find myself timid and unable to believe in my abilities.

Sitting in a coffee shop one day, Noelle found herself inspired by the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, "Do one thing every day that scares you".  Realizing that she'd let herself become crippled by anxiety and fears, Noelle took this to heart and began her  "Year of Fear".  She went skydiving and shark diving.  She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, renegotiated interest rates, took trapeze lessons and interviewed old boyfriends about why they broke up with her.

Along the way, she read books about and by Eleanor Roosevelt and learned about the insecurities that Eleanor herself overcame. Many of Eleanor's own thoughts and experiences are included alongside Noelle's.

What I loved is that the book isn't simply an account of Noelle's adventures, but an intelligent, perceptive book about looking at one's self and discovering hidden strengths and courage. Noelle's narration is, at times, hysterically funny yet very insightful and often hit very close to home.

While I could have done without the profanity and occasional vulgarity, this is still an eloquent and inspiring account of one woman's year of discovery.

Thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Noelle Hancock here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Monday, July 11: Book Reviews by Molly
Tuesday, July 12: Bibliosue
Wednesday, July 13: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Thursday, July 14: Melody & Words
Tuesday, July 19: Scandalous Women
Wednesday, July 20: Unabridged Chick
Monday, July 25: One Book Shy
Tuesday, August 2: “That’s Swell!”
Wednesday, August 3: The Book Chick
Thursday, August 4: Cozy Little House
Wednesday, August 10: Kahakai Kitchen


Read 7/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Countdown to Love...Review

About the book:
Abandoned at the altar, Kelly Grace Pickens finds herself left holding not only the bouquet but also the exorbitant bill for an A-list wedding. Homeless, a once promising singing career floundering, and her life bearing an uncanny resemblance to one of her country music ballads, she reluctantly accepts a last minute offer to appear on a reality TV show akin to
The Bachelor. Pitted against silicon-enhanced supermodels in four-inch heels, Kelly feels confident that she will be among the first would-be fiancées to be excused. 

Only, when the mysterious bachelor from New York City, Dillon Black, invites her to stay, Kelly finds herself thrust into the vortex of a game she doesn’t have the first idea how to play. Nursing her hopelessly broken heart while avoiding the foils of her fellow contestants, Kelly is oblivious to Dillon’s affections as she wades through hurt and betrayal to discover, in the end, that somehow she has landed firmly on both feet.

Leaving behind Music Row in Nashville, TN, for the majestic Grand Teton mountains, Countdown To Love takes readers on a journey from duplicity to sincerity as Kelly discovers that being true to oneself is the first step in finding happiness and everlasting love.

Left at the altar, aspiring country singer Kelly Grace Pickens attempts to put her life back together.  When her television producer cousin invites her to be a contestant on a reality show, Kelly agrees simply because she needs the money.  After comparing herself to the conniving, beautiful women on the show, she's convinced she won't last.  Kelly's plans change when she makes an impression upon bachelor Dillon Black and she finds herself presented with rose after rose and invited back time and time again.  As the show progresses, Kelly finds herself torn between affection for her absent fiance and a new-found attraction for Dillon.

I'm not a fan of reality television and I've never seen an episode of The Bachelor so I have no idea how the show works.  But, using it as a setting for Kelly's story was a lot of fun.  There were laugh out loud funny parts and tender, poignant parts as well.  While I realize the focus of the story is on Kelly and her self discovery, I wish there had been more development of Dillon and his past/family history.  I think a sequel is definitely in order here!

This was, quite simply, a delightfully fun novel.  It's a clean, funny Christian romance and a story that I can wholeheartedly recommend!

Thanks to Tristi Pinkston and Cedar Fort Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Julie N. Ford here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Blessed...Review

About the book:
It is 1844 and Lacey Bishop's life is a tangled mess. Estranged from her own family, at age 16 she went to work for a preacher and his wife. When his wife died, the preacher convinced Lacey that the only decent thing to do was to marry him. That way she could continue to act as mother to the little girl who was left on his doorstop. 

But Lacey never expected he would decide to take them all off to a Shaker village. There she's still married but living in a community that believes marriage is a sin. And to make matters worse, she finds herself drawn to Isaac Kingston, a man who came to the Shakers after his young bride died. But of course any notion of love between them is only a forbidden dream. How will Lacey ever find true happiness?

Readers will find themselves engrossed in this heartrending tale of commitment and forgiveness, the latest from popular author Ann H. Gabhart.

Having worked in the home of a preacher for many years and being very close to his wife and caring for the child left on his doorstep, Lacey is unprepared when Preacher Palmer pressures her into marriage after the death of his wife.  Her love for young Rachel pushes her into accepting his offer.  When the preacher suddenly moves them all to a Shaker village, Lacey has no choice but to go along.

As she struggles to understand this new faith and what might have drawn the preacher into it, she meets others who touch her life in ways she never could have anticipated.  Romantic love and marriage are forbidden by the Shakers, but Lacey and Isaac must find their own way and discover whether they should stay in Harmony Hill or if their path takes them away from the community.  Like all of us, Lacey and Isaac must learn what purpose God has for them, individually.

I've enjoyed Ann H. Gabhart's Shaker series.  This is a people that truly fascinates me.  What I have appreciated most in these books, is that that she doesn't ever put down or ridicule the Shaker religion.  There are many faiths that are misunderstood or feared (my own included) and writers of religious fiction often have a point or purpose that is to make readers judge or dislike those religions.  They have their characters join a religion only to find that they ultimately don't believe it or want to follow it.  Their experiences are always negative and the faith is criticized and put down.  While Ann's characters often end up leaving the Shaker religion to go back out into the world, the religion itself is never ridiculed by her characters.  They learn that they must follow their own path, but they always respect those whose path is different.  This is so refreshing.

An enjoyable book and one I can easily recommend.  While part of a series, all the books stand alone.

Available July 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Ann H. Gabhart here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Best-Staged Plans...Review

About the book:
As a professional home stager, Sandy Sullivan is an expert at transforming cluttered rooms into attractive houses ready for sale. If only reinventing her life were as easy as choosing the perfect paint color. She's eager to put her family's suburban Boston home on the market, to downsize, and to simplify her own life. But she must first deal with her foot-dragging husband and her grown son, who has moved back home after college to inhabit the basement "bat cave."

After reading them the riot act, Sandy takes a job staging a boutique hotel in Atlanta recently acquired by her best friend's boyfriend. The good news is that she can spend time with her recently married daughter, Shannon, in Atlanta. The bad news is that Shannon finds herself heading to Boston for job training, leaving Sandy and her southern son-in-law, Chance, as reluctant roommates.

If that's not complicated enough, Sandy begins to suspect that her best friend's boyfriend may be seeing another woman on the side.

Filled with characters who are fresh and original, yet recognizable enough to live in your neighborhood plus plenty of great tips and tricks for fixing up houses, and lives this is a wise and witty story of letting go and moving on.

Liked it, didn't love it.  I never really connected with Sandy and I found her to be selfish, shallow and whiny.  All she cared about was herself and selling her house. There was no compassion for her husband or children, only disdain for the fact that they didn't do things the way or as fast as she wanted them to.

The narrative was conversational and the staging tips were fun and added an interesting note.  There were moments of laugh out loud funny humor, but overall the story was shallow and felt unfinished.  When Sandy meets Naomi, there was an opportunity for added depth, but Sandy simply gives her a makeover and job.  Naomi's story is also never actually concluded, but pushed aside for the girlfriends-band-together-to-make-a-man-miserable ending.

A light, fluffy, humorous beach read.  Nothing more.  Perfect for an afternoon escape where you don't want to concentrate on anything.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Art of Saying Goodbye...Review

About the book:
She was the thread that wove their tapestry together.

With a group of women as diverse as the ladies from Brightwood Trace, you might not think them to be close. There’s Julianne, a nurse with an unsettling psychic ability that allows her to literally feel what her patients feel, Andrea, a strong fortress sheltering a faltering core, Ginger, a mother torn between being a stay-at-home mom or following her career aspirations, and Iona, the oldest, whose feisty, no-nonsense attitude disarms even toughest of the tough. Not exactly the ingredients for the most cohesive cocktail . . . Until you add Paisley, the liveliest and friendliest of the clan, who breathed life into them all.

But when their glowing leader falls ill with cancer, it’s up to these women to do what Paisley has done for them since the beginning: lift her up. Overcoming and accepting the inevitability of loss, the women draw closer than ever; finding together the strength to embrace and cherish their lives with acceptance, gratitude and most importantly, love. Finally living with the vigor that Paisley has shown them from the start, they are able to see their lives in a new light, while learning to say goodbye to the brightest star they’ve ever known. Over the course of just three months, these four women will undergo a magnificent transformation that leaves nobody unchanged.

Sometimes I hit a wave of books that I just don't connect with.  Perhaps it's me and the circumstances of my life at the time, perhaps it's the books.  The Art of Saying Goodbye was another disappointment to me.

I normally enjoy books that explore the friendships of women.  I thought the author did a good job capturing some of the intricacies and feelings of each of these women as Paisley's cancer diagnosis causes them to evaluate their lives and relationships.  The book's point of view/narration moves from woman to woman, alternating with Paisley's first-person narrative.  And, unfortunately, I was never able to connect with any of them and found the whole thing rather shallow. I never felt that there was a true bond of friendship between them.  With an exception or two, they all seemed more like acquaintances who happened to live in the same neighborhood and while they genuinely cared about each other they were not true bosom girlfriends.

This is one novel, however, that I can book clubs enjoying. Some readers will want to know that there is incidental profanity and sex.  Mine is not the only review and you can see other, more positive reviews at some of the blogs listed below.

Thanks to Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Ellyn Bache here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Tuesday, June 14th: Reviews from the Heart
Monday, June 20th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, June 22nd: Bookstack
Monday, June 27th: StephTheBookworm
Tuesday, June 28th: I’m Booking It
Wednesday, June 29th: Crazy for Books
Thursday, June 30th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, July 5th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner
Wednesday, July 6th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Date TBD: Colloquium

Read 7/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Before Versailles...Review

Add caption
About the book:
Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?

After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, it sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal and conflict with the Vatican. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought—a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe . . .

Meticulously researched and vividly brought to life by the gorgeous prose of Karleen Koen, Before Versailles dares to explore the forces that shaped an iconic king and determined the fate of an empire.

This wasn't an easy book to read.  It seems to be well researched and is a fictionalized account about the first 4 months of the reign of King Louis XIV of France and has all the makings of a great novel. It's a story full of mystery, adultery and intrigue and the French court was lavish and decadent.

There is a cast of characters listing in the front, but I still had a hard time keeping people straight and I think it's because the POV didn't stay with one particular person.  It was hard to find a connection with either Louise or Louis.

Honestly, I ultimately didn't like the characters or the book.  But, I can pretty much guarantee that mine will probably be one of the only negative reviews on the tour.  This book is one that has received high marks on Goodreads and Amazon and fans of historical fiction should enjoy it.

Thanks to Lisa at TLC Book Tours. You can learn more about Karleen Koen here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews on the book tour here.

Tuesday, July 5th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Wednesday, July 6th:  Broken Teepee
Thursday, July 7th:  The Bookworm
Friday, July 8th:  Historical-Fiction.com
Monday, July 11th:  In the Hammock
Tuesday, July 12th:  Living Outside the Stacks
Wednesday, July 13th:  The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, July 14th:  Royal Reviews
Monday, July 18th:  Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, July 19th:  Enchanted by Josephine
Wednesday, July 20th:  Laura’s Reviews
Thursday, July 21st:  Historical Tapestry AND  Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Friday, July 22nd:  Books Like Breathing
Monday, July 25th:  Stiletto Storytime
Tuesday, July 26th:  Hist-Fic Chick
Wednesday, July 27th:  Life in Review
Thursday, July 28th:  Reading, Reading & Life

Read 7/11

* *
2/5 Stars