Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Review: More Than This ...

Book Description:

When Mikayla imagined her prom night, she envisioned a fairy-tale evening full of romance. So when betrayal and tragedy come in quick succession, Mikayla is completely destroyed. Suddenly, everything she loved and everyone she relied on are tragically, irrevocably gone.

Jake, a handsome boy she just met, happens to witness her loss. With no one to turn to, Mikayla is forced to depend on this near stranger and his family, and he in turn is determined to take care of her. But Mikayla—thrust into adulthood with no one to guide her—is desperate to contain her grief and hide what she considers to be her weakness. Mikayla and Jake both want more, but despite their growing closeness and intense chemistry, she tries to keep her distance and protect her heart. As he does everything in his power to win her trust, Mikayla must choose between remaining alone and safe or letting love in.

My Review:  Here's the thing about reading a book ~ the author, sometimes, gets right into the heart and head of a character(s) and write with such conviction, it's hard to distinguish that it's just ficton and not an autobiography.  While More Than This wasn't my favorite book to read, one thing resonated with me as I plowed through this book at rapid pace:  Jay McLean can write.

The story takes place in a high school setting with Mikayla, a high school girl, and the events that unfold towards the end of her senior year in school.  Having a daughter exactly her age, this book jumped out at me but let me just say, that's exactly where the similiarities stopped and my review of this as literally work begins.  Mikayla, also known as Kayla to those closest to her, appears to be a typical high school girl by most standards - steady boyfriend, great circle of friends, loving family and focused on life after high school - college, work, career.  She has a best friend, Megan, who sleeps around including with Mikayla's boyfriend, and she catches them together as they are leaving for Prom.  Naturally, she is in tears and destroyed and Prom is ruined.  Enter Jake, an all around nice guy, who happens to be at the same diner as Kayla when this goes down and they end up going to his Prom instead.  What happens next is incredibly sad, a turn of events no child should ever have to encounter and that's the death of Mikayla's entire family in a house fire.  She's left alone with no where to go and grieve, and she's taken in temporarily by Jake and his family, whom she just met!
Their relationship blossoms and he's a caring and falling for Kayla at the same time as trying to juggle school and a baseball scholarship.   The story is captivating - you want to know, does Kayla make it to college?  Does she inherit anything?  How at 18 does a young girl survive in the world?

This book appears to be very real to 'real life' teens and aside from the catalyst of Kayla's incredible losses.  What bothered me mostly was the subject matter being very STRONG in sexual tones and
the bad language.  While I feel the writing style is good, it seemed a little over the top in the language and explicitly.  I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone attempting to 'shield' their children from the descriptions of teenage drinking, parties, sleeping around, loss and betrayal.  If you are okay with all of that, then this book is a page turner and I flew through it at record pace to see how it ended!

Special thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review ~ any opinions expressed are purely my own and I was not compensated in any way other than receipt of the book.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: A Most Inconvient Marriage

From the book jacket:

Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun's Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.
Most Inconvenient Indeed.

With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he's gone--a practical solution for both of them.

After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain--until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail's story. Abigail is

flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she's never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn't trying to steal his farm? And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?

  My Review:

There is something incredibly wonderful about a Christian romance to warm the soul and tickle the senses with the sweetness of love.  That's the basic premise of  A Most Inconvient Marriage by Regina Jennings.  Toss in some unruliness, hard times and good decent folk, and this novel delivers just the western novel is purports to be.  However, this isn't a run of the mill western romance where the cowboy rides in and saves a damsel in distress with a tip of his hat and a howdy ma'am.  Rather, it's a slow simmer about two main characters, torn between what each believes is right, set in the Ozarks during a time where the North and South are battling each other, almost as much as Abigail and Jeremiah do through-out this novel.  They are both caught up in a web of an unusual arrangement where both are struggling to find themselves in the midst of a war torn country where everyone seems to be taking a side. 

The characters are delightfully written and the author does a wonderful job of building each personality so well that you get to know them and either like them, nor not.  Abigail is a dutiful nurse, striking up a promise at the bedside of a dying soldier to go back to his farm and take care of his mother and sister, who is gravely sick.  Unbeknownst to her, he is not who he claims to be and finds herself in quite a dilemma after the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, and none to happy to hear about her.  He's wounded, both physically and his pride, and finds the fiance' he left behind engaged to someone else and a 'wife' he doesn't want or acknowledge since he's alive and well, not the man who pretended to be him.

There is a whole cast of characters that helps build the plot ~  from the feisty, bitter sister Rachel to Laurel, the fiancĂ© that can't make up her mind who she wants:  Jeremiah or her new doctor suitor, Dr. Hopkins.  The two delightful and playful children of a neighbor, Josiah and Betsy who bring charm and wit to this otherwise hardworking, humdrum daily farm life back drop.  The chapter where Abigail makes a pumpkin pie from scratch to please Rachel and has a melting pie face to scare the busy-body children is absolutely hiliarious!   Jennings even paints a beautiful scene with Abigail meeting her old family horse, Ladymare, at an auction and shares a tender moment.   

However, even with the great character cast, I found this novel slow to warm and didn't quite reach the crescendo I'd hoped.  It is somewhat lackluster and dull in the dialog with the story being too monotonous at times.  I think the author had a nice theme but just didn't deliver the story well and each page, each chapter felt the same as the previous.  I kept waiting for the "wow" factor, but this one sadly fell flat for me.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group on behalf of Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review and the stated opinion I have expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Review: Preschool Bible Learning Cards

These are truly the best kids' verses and bible 'flash cards'  that I've ever seen out on the market.  I wish I'd had these when my babies were small.  They are colorful, whimsical, attention grabbing with eye-catching drawings.  A pure delight!

The cards are color coded on the tops for finding themes, carefully written in the language of very young children. Bible verses (especially KJV) are often harder for the younger crowds with difficult biblical references and names we can hardly pronounce!  These bible cards are impressive and wrap it all up beautifully!

The illustrations draw the younger children right in, clipped together with a binder ring for easy use,
quick flipping and sturdy enough without worrying about cutting a little finger (no paper cuts with these!) and thick enough not to rip or tear should the children want to hold them and practice 'reading' or reciting. 

These bible cards are so adorable, they are PERFECT for gift giving!  While picking up a set for you,
grab one for a new baby gift, the toddler about to celebrate a birthday or special occasion .. they are THAT spectacular!  The preschool bible learning card pack contains 20 5" x 7" sturdy cards, appropriate for preschool levels 1-5.   But - even my teenage daughters literally swooned over these and read them, smiled, and said it was the most beautiful product!

Please visit the website to see a preview of the cards :

 Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.


Book Review: How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots

Book Jacket:

Sometimes, being smart just isn’t enough.  It’s been a rough semester for Howard Boward, science genius. Not only is he having to dodge winter’s most feared weapon (snowballs), his close friend, Winnie McKinney, is barely speaking to him. If that weren’t enough, he’s the favorite target of some bullies who seem determined to make life at Dolley Madison Middle School as miserable as possible. But then Howard learns about an upcoming robot-building contest—finally a chance to show off his science skills and beat archrival Gerald “G-Force” Forster! Unfortunately, the only way to win is by using his secret “monster goo,” a formula that has terrifying side effects. Can Howard resist the temptation? Or will he unleash a robot rampage that could destroy the town—and ruin the school dance?

My Review:   What an incredibly delightful book!  This chapter book is a perfect read for older elementary age children and the older crowds - like it's namesake junior high level kids - will enjoy this and zip right through it!

Howard is an incredibly bright, wonderful student that creates robot for the science fair but it runs quickly sour!  He's bullied by his classmates which makes him a loner and he spends his time with science and building his new robot after his first one runs away from home.  It comes back and to the rescue when the new science fair robot tries to take over the school!

This book is a fun, quick, delightful read.  One note: This is the second book in the series, of which I did not read, and you don't need to read that one to follow along.  This book stands alone just fine!

I thank BookLook bloggers for the chance to review this book and my review is a positive opinion expressed by me on my own accord.