Book Review: In Name Only by Ellen Gable

In Name Only is my third book of Ellen’s that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. You can read my review of Stealing Jenny here and Emily’s Hope here.

From the back cover:

“1876, Philadelphia. Caroline Martin’s life has finally taken a turn for the better. After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table. Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn toward Him.”

My comments:

I liked Emily’s Hope, I thoroughly enjoyed Stealing Jenny and I absolutely LOVED In Name Only. 🙂 It is definitely my favorite out of Ellen’s three books. (a BIG thanks to Ellen for offering me a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for the review. 🙂 )

In Name Only is a historical romance, set in 1876 Philadelphia, but it isn’t an ordinary historical romance. Many romances, including historical, are often smutty and makes me want to go to confession after reading them! That’s why I usually stick with Amish love-inspired novels, such as The Wonder of Your Love. Ellen’s book, however, is anything but smutty. It is a touching and engaging romance that captivates the reader from the very beginning.

Ellen does a wonderful job touching on human sexuality and the Catholic teaching on sexuality. It is direct but weaved into the story seamlessly. She also beautifully handles topics such as tragedy, miscarriage and confession.

The characters are realistic, human and interesting and I fell in love with all of them. I became lost in the book, completely drawn into the story as I ‘watched’ the different character relationships evolve; so much so, I stayed up WAY past my bedtime because I didn’t want to put the book down!

If there was one “negative” thing to say it would be that the storyline was a little predictable; BUT, almost all books are like that for me. I have this thing of always thinking of possible scenarios and can almost always predict what will happen next in a novel. Still, even being able to expect what will happen didn’t detract from the plot lines whatsoever. They were interesting, several times made me tear up, and the perfect complement to the characters’ lives in the story.

Finally, I hated for the book to end. I wish Ellen would bring Carolyn and David back in a sequel to this book! Please, Ellen?!

I give this book 4 (four) stars for sure. 🙂

Book Review: Past Suspicion by Therese Heckenkamp

Past Suspicion by Therese Heckenkamp

From the book description (from back cover):

“As this intriguing story of suspense unfolds, seventeen-year-old Robin is forced from her California home to live in Wisconsin with an uncle she never knew existed. Here in her mother’s hometown, Robin meets two young men and, while unraveling the secrets of her mother’s past, becomes involved in a treacherous plot, not realizing the importance of untangling her own life if she is to find a direction for her future.”

My thoughts:

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I am not a huge fan of mystery or suspense novels. Never was. Still, not one to refuse a free book, I happily accepted when Therese Heckenkamp offered Past Suspicion in exchange for a review. (Thanks, Therese!)

As I always when I do a review, I resisted the urge to read the last chapter of the book first. (Yes, yes, I do read the last chapter of the book, usually, what can I say? 🙂 ) It was hard. The book was a page turner. I was quickly drawn into the story and it was hard to put down.

Although the heroine is a teen, adults will enjoy this book. I did. The characters were realistic, interesting and well-developed. The plot was engaging and intriguing. I enjoyed Therese’s writing style and would definitely recommend her book.

I give this book three (3) stars.

 

Book Review: “Attack on Planet Falrus” by JN Tenkorang

Attack on Planet Falrus

From the description:

The President and Commander Bonzak from the OLD World (Outside Line Desimak) decide it’s time Falrus comes under their rule. These tyrants will stop at nothing to take over the entire galaxy. The twins, Square and Professor Potty must devise a plan to stop them. but a sequence of events will put one of the twins smack dab in the middle of a very dangerous situation.”

When JN Tenkorang offered to give me a copy of her young-adult  novel, “Attack on Planet Falrus” in exchange for a review, I happily agreed, not knowing the title of the book or what it was about. I was a little concerned, however, when the book came in the mail. I’m not much of a fantasy novel enthusiast.  Never was. In any case, I was determined to keep an open mind when reading this book.

It needn’t have worried. I actually enjoyed this book very much. It was an easy read, which I expected, given that it is geared toward young adults. It was also somewhat predictable, but again, I expected that given my adult status. However, the book kept my attention, the characters were likable and the plot was predictable but well-thought out.

There were two aspects of the novel I particularly appreciated:

1. The Catholic faith was weaved easily and naturally into the story. Going to mass on Sunday was just a normal part of the lives of several of the characters. There were those who had faith and those who didn’t. There was no “preaching”, but faith in God wasn’t ignored. It was just present, respectfully, in the novel.

2. The parents were present and an active part of the young people’s lives. The adults in the novel were intelligent and capable and not the bumbling idiots as they are so often portrayed nowadays.

In short, this is an engaging, intelligent novel that I would definitely recommend for your young adult readers.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.)

7 Quick Takes: How to Find Free Books Edition

I’m not like most women. I don’t collect shoes or handbags or jewelry. I am pretty ruthless about getting rid of “junk” and am very much a minimalist. I’m not a collector of anything, except for one thing: BOOKS. Lock me in the library or book store and I’m in Heaven. LOL! I love me some books. Four days after getting a Kindle Touch for my birthday I had 50 books downloaded on it. I keep a running list of books that I want to get and read – more than any one person can read in a lifetime. I’m okay with that. 🙂

I’ve been known to pay a good amount of money (mine and others!) on books, but I also like getting them for free. Who wouldn’t? Here are my seven of my favorite places, mostly online, to get free books:

— 1 —

The Library. No brainer here. 🙂 One of the great things about the library is that if your branch doesn’t have the book you want, you can almost always get it through their inter-library system. Of course, the caveat (if you can even call it that), is you have to return the book!

— 2 —

Paperback Swap. If you haven’t discovered Paperback Swap, you should definitely take a look and sign up. The premise is you post the books you want to get rid of, and for each book that gets “ordered” you get a credit that you can use to order a book for yourself.

Two things about Paperback Swap you should know: 1. When you first sign up and post 10 books, you get two “free” credits to get you started with swapping. 2. The person sending the books pays the postage. For example, if you order a book that I have posted, I am the one who will pay the postage. When someone orders a book that you have posted, you pay the postage.

— 3 —

Amazon.com. Duh, right? A quick search on amazon.com for “free kindle ebooks” brings up pages of free ebooks that you can download to your Kindle. Just be warned: there are a lot of erotic ebooks listed, but if you can overlook them there are also a lot of classics and good books listed, too.

— 4 —

eReaderLove.com. This is a blog that lists lots and lots of ebooks that are listed free on amazon.com for a limited time. You can sign up for email updates and get daily notices of what books are available. There are often a lot of romance, historical fiction and horror novels listed if you are interested in those genres.

— 5 —

Openlibrary.org. I actually just discovered this site, and haven’t tried taking out a book out yet, but I did sign up for an account. What openlibrary.org does is allow you to borrow up to five books for two weeks. They have tons of books and an extensive inter-library system.

— 6 —

Book Review Sites. There are several book review sites, such as booksneeze.com, that allow to you get free books in exchange for a written review that you will post on your website and a commercial site, such as amazon.com. There are also websites, like netgalley.com, that don’t require you to write a review.

(The book review sites that I know of are not Catholic, but Protestant sites. If you know of any Catholic Publishers that offer blogger book review programs, please let me know! I’d really love to start reviewing Catholic specific books.)

— 7 —

Directly from Authors. Sometimes authors keep books on hand to give to bloggers or others who are willing to read the book in exchange for a review. I’ve been blessed to have been approached a couple of times by an author to read their book.

Or, if you have a favorite author, you may want to approach him or her and ask if he/she would be willing to give you a copy of their latest book in exchange for a review. I haven’t personally tried this since yet, but I would if I wasn’t back-loaded with reading right now. The worst they can say is no, right?

I have to put in a number 8. Family and friends. Since most people who know me knows I love to read, sometimes they will either pass on a book they liked for me to read, or will let me take one of their books if I ask.

Where do you find your free (or paid for) books? I’d love to know, so please tell me in the comments!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Book Review: Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews

This is going to be a very short review…

GO GET THIS BOOK NOW! Seriously, it’s THAT good.

Longer version: :mrgreen:

I’m a long-time reader of Blogging with Amy, and as I mentioned before, I kept meaning to get Tell Your Time but never did. Finally, I decided if I was going to get the book, I’m going to get it now, so hopefully it will help me get the new year off to a good start. It was a good decision. 🙂

Why?

First of all, the book can be read quickly. It’s short – just like Amy intended. I read the book in under an hour – and that’s with highlighting snippets I wanted to stand out. I was also able to print out the worksheets and had them completed in less then 30 minutes.

Secondly, I was able to implement the suggestions immediately and already seeing a difference. Not only in getting things done, but more importantly, in how I feel: I’m already beginning to be more at peace and less stressed!

Third, you can’t beat the price. Seriously. It was only $2.99 when I purchased it. To get the content that Amy puts in this book, for this price, is a steal.

What impressed me most about Tell Your Time can be summed up in the preface of the book:

“Many time management techniques do a good job of helping you organize your activities. Few challenge you to think about whether you should be doing those activities in the first place.” (Italics mine)

But Amy does just that. She helps you discover where you are stuck and then gives you the “secret” to managing your time. Using examples from her own life, she outlines how to create a schedule that will work for you, based on the priorities and goals that are important to you and your family.

So, if you are looking to streamline your life and create a schedule that works, I highly recommend you get a copy of this book. 🙂

(Contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.)

Book Review: Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like surprises. Well, it’s not that I don’t like surprises so much as I don’t like suspense. I’m the one who asks questions and talks through movies (just ask my husband!) and I (almost) always read the last chapter of a book BEFORE reading the rest of it. Yep, I do! That’s why I normally stay away from suspenseful novels. You’ll never see me reading Steven King or James Patterson. 🙂

However, when Ellen offered to let me read and review any of her books – and I read Stealing Jenny’s excerpt – I knew I had to choose this book. Dozens of questions popped into my head and I “had” to find out what happened next to Jenny. Where was Denise taking Jenny? Did Jenny and her baby survive? What happened to little Caleb? Was he okay?

When Stealing Jenny arrived, I resisted the urge to read the last chapter of the book – which, believe me, was HARD! But, I’m glad I did, because I think it made the book that much more enjoyable. I was kept on the edge of my seat for the most part; although, there were several times in the book I was able to figure out what was going to happen next before it occurred.

Still, I enjoyed the book very much. As a mom, I felt an instant liking to Jenny. I also liked Tom and many of the other characters in the book. I liked the flashbacks that gave us a glimpse of why the characters were they way they are – in spite of their failings and mistakes (which one learns about in the flashbacks). I even almost even felt sorry for Denise – almost, but not quite!

If you enjoy suspense, I think you will enjoy Stealing Jenny. I give this book 4 stars.

(Affiliate Links included, please see my disclosure policy.)

Book Review: Heaven is for Real for Kids

Book Summary:

This book is based on a true story of Colton Burpo. When he was almost four years old he was admitted to the hospital. While he was there he has an experience with Jesus who takes Colton to heaven. He shares his experience with his parents who in turn wrote the original book Heaven is for Real and now this version of the book is for children.

My Comments:

Being a children’s book, I of course, had to read this to my son and get his opinion of this book. He loved it. And so did I. As a matter of fact, he has asked me to read it every day since we got the book! (And I happily obliged. 🙂 )

From a kid’s perspective, my son likes the pictures and that the book was written at a level he can easily understand. He also likes that he is able to read a lot of the book himself.

From a message perspective, my son was enthralled with Colton’s experience of heaven and the constant refrain of how much Jesus loves him and all children. Thanks to this book, my son and I have had several meaning conversations about God and how much He loves each and everyone of us. We’ve talked about Heaven and other tenets of our faith. Thanks to this book we have had some truly precious moments between us.

My rating:

I give this book 4 stars.

Review Copy Disclosure:

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com (http://www.booksneeze.com) book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html) : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

—This post contains affiliate links. Go here to see my disclosure policy.

Book Review: The Wonder of Your Love by Beth Wiseman

The Wonder of Your Love by Beth Wiseman

 

Book Summary:

This is a charming story is about Katie Ann Stolzfus, a single mother raising her son in a small Amish community in Canaan, Colorado and Eli Detweiler is an Amish man looking forward to enjoying the rest of his life after raising six children on his own. Thanks to a wedding, they meet and a friendship is formed. As their feeling become more, they both struggle against what they think they want and what is deep within their hearts.

My Comments:

I enjoy reading love-inspired fiction (such as Amish Novels) so I was excited to get an advance copy of The Wonder of Your Love for  review. I have read several of Beth Wiseman’s books that I liked so I expected to like this one as well. I was not disappointed. 🙂

The characters in this book are endearing and I was immediately drawn into their lives. I was surprised to see that Katie’s best friend, Martha, is not Amish at all. And can I just say that Martha is a hoot?! (I was surprised to see this because I thought that the Amish – although friendly toward “Englishers” – didn’t make friends with Englishers.)

The story was somewhat predictable but it was believable and sounded very realistic (although my knowledge of the Amish is limited). I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and was a little sad when the story was over. I hope to read more of the Land of Canaan book series soon.

And, guess what? Like a lot of Amish novels, this book has a few recipes at the end! Three recipes in fact. I particularly can’t wait to try the Peanut Blossoms recipe.

My rating:

I give this book 4 stars.

Review Copy Disclosure:

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com (http://www.booksneeze.com) book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html) : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

—This post contains affiliate links. Go here to see my disclosure policy.

Book Review: Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

Book Summary:

A busy businessman finds a dinner invitation in the mail from Jesus. Believing it to be a prank by his co-workers, he goes to the dinner expecting to have a night out with the guys. Instead, he has dinner with a mystery man and drawn into a conversation that changes his life forever.

For an excerpt of this book you can go to the publisher’s Scribed page here.

My Thoughts:

This book was an easy read and I was able to finish the book in one sitting – an hour to be exact. I enjoyed this quaint story and appreciated the premise. I’d love to have have a sit down dinner conversation with Jesus. I’m sure many of us would.

What I liked:

The main character, Nick, thought that the invitation was a joke or an advertising trick from a local church. He didn’t easily believe it was Jesus and came at the conversation with skepticism. I appreciated this because I’ve read fiction in the past where the characters immediately believed and was all “sappy” and in awe, which made those stories unbelievable and annoying.

The character of Jesus (wearing a business suit) was intelligent and also very believable. He was natural and spoke with profound simplicity and directness. You could see why Nick was drawn into a conversation with him.

I also liked the way the book flowed and felt the book was engaging. I wouldn’t say that book was a “page turner” but it kept my interest and I was eager to go from one topic of conversation to another.

What I didn’t like:

My biggest problem with the book was some of the topics could have been fleshed out a little more. The book was almost too general and did not discuss any of the topics in depth. I wish the book had been a little longer so that some of the topics, such as the discussions about world religions and faith could have been delved into a little more.

I also wish the talks were more personal in nature, particularly Nick’s relationship with his wife and baby. You learn enough to  know there are some issues between Nick and his wife, and the discussion between Nick and Jesus offers enough to know that Nick needs to be a better husband, but there are no suggestions on how he can do this on a practical level. (And I like things practical! 🙂 )

My rating:

I give this book 3 stars.

Speaking of ratings, would you do me a quick favor and rate my review? It only takes a second and will help increase my review points. Thank you so much!

Review Copy Disclosure:

I received this book free from the publisher through the Waterbrook Multnomahah blogging for books (http://www.waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/) book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html) : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Book Review: The Amish Farm Trilogy by Gayle Roper

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Book Summary:

This love-inspired book series begins with “A Stranger’s Wish”, continues with “A Secret Identity” and ends with “A Rose Revealed”. They are all books focused on “Englishers” (non-Amish) in an Amish setting. Basically, the main characters are not Amish and the supporting characters are Amish.

In “A Stranger’s Wish” (Product description):  “Englischer Kristie Matthews’ move to an Amish family farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, starts on a bad note as the young schoolteacher is bitten by a dog. A trip to the local ER leads to an encounter with an old man who hands her a key and swears her to silence. But when Kristie’s life is endangered, she suspects there’s a connection to the mysterious key. While solving the mystery (and staying alive), Kristie must decide whether her lawyer boyfriend, Todd Reasoner, is really right for her….or if Jon Clarke Griffin, the new local man she’s met, is all he seems to be.”

In “A Secret Identity” (Product description):”Cara Bentley is raised by her grandfather to appreciate family. When she discovers—quite by accident—that he was adopted, her whole perspective changes. If he wasn’t a Bentley, who was he? If she isn’t a Bentley, who is she? She determines to find her “real” family. Ending up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she takes a room at the Zook family farm.  When she seeks the help of attorney Todd Reasoner, the search for the truth begins in earnest. But as mysterious accidents begin to happen, Cara suspects her attempt to find out the truth is not welcome—and neither is she.”

From “A Rose Revealed” (from product description): “Rose Martin became a nurse because she wanted to help people in pain. And she has come to realize that part of being a nurse means encountering death. But death by natural causes….not by murder. So when cancer-stricken Sophie Hostetter is murdered, Rose begins asking questions. Soon she’s drawn into a maze of family secrets that endanger her own life. Her growing attraction to Amish-raised Jake Zook further complicates her life. His resentment toward her is puzzling—after all, she helped save his life. Why will he not allow her to share that life now?”

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoy love-inspired Amish fiction books. They have none of the raunchyness of regular romance novels, for one thing; and more complex, thoughtful relationships among the characters, for another. At the same time, they are light reads which are perfect for those times you need to give your mind a rest. 🙂 So, if you are looking for a light read to take with you as you lounge at the beach, the park or just in your back yard, grab yourself one of these three titles.

And don’t worry if you read them out of sequence; although helpful, each book stands on its own. And I know this first hand. I originally found “A Secret Identity” at the library and didn’t even notice that it was part of a trilogy when I snatched it. After I finished it, I immediately went back to the library to check out the other two volumes and read those in order.

What I liked:

All three books were woven very well together. The characters of the next book were easily and seamlessly introduced in the book before it. All three books had a touch of mystery, even if I was able to recognize the “bad guys” before they were revealed. All three had likable characters and gave some insights into the daily life of the Amish. All of them were really enjoyable, page-turning reads.

I do have to say that hands down, the third book “A Rose Revealed” was my favorite of the three. My heart was already drawn to Jake’s character when I accidentally read “A Secret Identity” and continued when I read the first book. The relationship between Jake and Rose was beautifully written and captivating. And the ending brought tears to my eyes.

What I didn’t like:

Gosh, there really wasn’t much of any of the books that I didn’t like. I didn’t like that they ended, that’s for sure – especially the last one. LOL! The books were exactly what I expected them to be: a light, easy-to-read love-inspired romance. 🙂

My rating:

I give these book 4 stars for each book.