Book Review: The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

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The Silent Songbird
by Melanie Dickerson
Rating: 4/5
Book 7 of Hagenheim series
Thomas Nelson – Fiction | Historical Romance

Meet Evangeline. She has the most beautiful singing voice and is privileged to be a ward and cousin of the great King Richard II, so she gets to live at Berkhamsted Castle. She would completely be satisfied with her comfortable life, right?

Unfortunately, due to her royal blood (even if she was illegitimate) she has never been free to go and do whatever she wanted. The walls of Berkhamsted always seem to be her own personal dungeon and nothing changes when she hears that King Richard II has agreed to Lord Shiveley’s marriage proposal for her. Lord Shiveley is rich, twice her age and one of the king’s trusted advisors, but Evangeline longs to fall in love just like in the poems and songs she sings.

With her impending wedding, Evangeline makes an impulsive decision to leave everything she knows and rely on the kindness of a stranger, Westley le Wyse. Though she has never lived as a peasant, she is determined that she would have more freedom to live and marry if she became a peasant. In order to disguise her identity, she tells her companion, Muriel, to say that she is mute. Her brilliant red hair and striking green eyes along with her substantial height already attract enough attention.

When the travelers reach Glynval, Evangeline learns that Westley is actually the eldest son of Lord le Wyse and not just a peasant. She is disappointed but she tries her best to fit in as a servant. Obviously, antics ensue since she’s never worked a day in her life, but Westley’s kindness to her even in the face of her inadequacies stirs her heart toward him. How can she ever tell Westley the truth about who she is without completely having him hate her? Westley feels pity and compassion toward her because he thinks she lost her voice from being abused by her master.

Will Evangeline ever be able to tell Westley the truth? Could they possibly find a way to be together despite Lord Shiveley’s frantic search for her? Is there more to what Lord Shiveley desires and can Evangeline discover this before it’s too late?

Yay! The newest installment in the Hagenheim series! I am a HUGE fan of Melanie Dickerson. What women doesn’t love a good fairytale? I didn’t even realize it was a reimagining of The Little Mermaid until the very end. This book can stand alone but Westley’s parents are from The Merchant’s Daughter so it was nice to see them again. I really liked how Evangeline grows as a character. Every girl needs to know how to defend herself and believe that she is loved for who she is. As much as I enjoyed Westley’s character, he almost seemed too good to be true – he could have had more flaws to make him more real in my opinion. This historical romance is full of romance and vivid scenery that transports the reader into medieval times. I highly recommend this series and I can’t wait to read what’s next.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Book Review: Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow

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Through My Eyes
by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker
Rating: 5/5
(Published 2011)
HarperCollins – Biography

Tim Tebow was almost never born. A doctor advised his pregnant mother to abort the baby, but she refused and the rest is history.

Tim grew up in a large family, homeschooled by his mother, heavily involved in sports, and raised to believe and trust in God. He had a seemingly picturesque childhood which laid the foundation for an incredibly strong man of God who always pushed himself to be the best he could be. This is his journey  of growing up and attending college at University of Florida. His many admirable accomplishments on and off the field are chronicled in a detailed account that any sports fan will enjoy.

Not being the most avid football fan, especially college football fan, I approached this book with curiosity. Having just finished reading about Olympic gold medalist platform diver, David Boudia, I was curious to see how well written this biography was. I was very impressed with the detailed writing. I felt this book was written and flowed better than David Boudia’s book. Tim’s story was quite charming to read but some of the football lingo was a bit lost on me (he tried to insert explanations but the visual learner in me was still a little confused). I’m not sure I will ever understand everything about football but you can tell that Tebow is incredibly passionate about the sport – basically lived and breathed football.

Since I’m not the biggest fan of football, why did I pick up this book to read? Actually, why did I request this book for a Christmas gift? I admire his passionate faith. As a Christian and someone who fell in love with the Philippines on a short term missions trip, I can relate to Tebow’s life in some ways. His passion to do everything for the Lord and be a good example is inspiring. He constantly pushed himself to do and be better – not for selfish gain, but in order to honor and give glory to God. How can I not admire his determination and fortitude to stand for morality and not back down when confronted? He is truly an amazing example of what God can do with someone willing to be a chosen vessel? Throughout this story, Tebow weaves in his relationship with God and is very transparent about his feelings. He shows great depth and courage and the reader can’t help but to support him on his journey. He continues to pursue his dreams and honor God in the process.

I highly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it, especially if you are a college football fan.

I also just saw that Tebow has another book coming out soon, Shaken (Amazon link), coming out in October 2016, and can’t wait to read it.

Note: As someone who is currently pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor, Tebow’s story encouraged me to press on and never give up. I want to continue to honor God in everything that I do.

Book Review: No Way Up by Mary Connealy

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No Way Up
by Mary Connealy
Rating: 5/5
Book 1 of the Cimarron Legacy
Bethany House – Fiction | Historical Romance

Chance Boden is determined to continue the Cimarron legacy that his father-in-law entrusted to him all those years ago and rewrites his will to ensure that his children obey his wishes. When Chance gets injured during an avalanche, hired hand Heath Kincaid saves his life and rushes to help his boss in any way that he can. Since he is badly hurt, Chance has his new will read which says all three of his children must live and work at the Cimarron ranch for one year or else the ranch will go to their disliked cousin Mike.

While investigating the avalanche, Heath discovers that what happened was on purpose and not an accident. Heath enlists Justin, Sadie and Cole’s help to investigate what really happened and find out why strange things are happening around the ranch. Heath especially needs the beautiful Sadie’s help and soon finds himself unable to dream of life without her. Can they find out what really happened and who is behind this? Will Heath ever be good enough for the lovely Sadie?

As a huge fan of Mary Connealy and having read her prequel, The Boden Birthright, to the Cimarron Legacy series, I was excited to read this new installment. I enjoyed following the investigation of the attempted murder of Chance Boden and was definitely involved in the story so much that I didn’t want to put the book down. The dynamics of Justin, Sadie, and Cole’s relationship was very interesting and I look forward to the next books in the series.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical romance with some intrigue.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Greater Than Gold by David Boudia

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Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption
by David Boudia, Tim Ellsworth
Rating: 4.5/5
Thomas Nelson – Biographies & Memoirs | Sports & Outdoors

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, David Boudia won a gold medal in the 10 meter platform diving competition which changed his life, but real change came years before after miserably failing at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

David chronicles his journey and motivations for pursuing elite diving and the internal struggles that constantly berate him. He shares story after story of his inadequacies and how he dealt (or didn’t deal) with them. He really puts the reader inside his head and heart and all that entails when it comes to competitive diving and his life outside of diving.

David Boudia tells his story of transformation and hope with a very honest voice that really spoke to me as a reader and a woman of faith. Since I don’t usually review biographies, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve missed reading them. I love to read the stories of struggle and triumph that many people can relate to. I was encouraged by his sincere words of frustration and despair. I think everyone can relate to failing at something or judging yourself only by looking at your results. Honestly, I was a bit surprised by the style of writing after only reading fiction for some time, but I loved how authentic and conversational the writing was. I came away from the book feeling encouraged and hopeful, which was a pleasant surprise. I loved the way he kept turning the conversation back to God and how he still struggles even after doing what he set out to do. The way his priorities and outlook change are so relatable and real.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to get inside the head of a transformed life that became an Olympic champion.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Side note: After following the Olympic Trials this year (2016), I was instantly intrigued by David Boudia and his story. On TV, I saw him praying with his coach and was encouraged to see a Christian athlete sharing his faith. When I was looking at books to review on NetGalley, I saw that his book was available and jumped at the chance to read about his journey. I’ve been rooting for him and Steele Johnson (they earned silver in the 10M Synchro Diving event) – Go Team USA!

Book Review: To Love a Stranger by Colleen Coble

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To Love a Stranger
by Colleen Coble
Rating: 4/5
Book 4 in the Wyoming series
Thomas Nelson – Fiction | Historical Romance

Bessie Randall has a problem. Her younger sister Lenore agreed to marry a stranger – a soldier stationed in the wild frontier – but instead of writing as herself, Lenore used her sister’s name. Afraid of what her society parents will think or do if they learn the truth, Lenore begs Bessie to go in her place and honor the marriage, since Lenore already has a beau. Lenore fears being sent to jail for forging her sister’s name and Bessie won’t let anything bad happen to her baby sister.

Bessie prays about it and arrives west to find Jasper Mendenhall, her new husband, surprised to see her. Having received a picture of his wife, Jasper was expecting a woman who looked like Lenore and was disappointed to find Bessie, a plainer woman who doesn’t seem at all like the girl he’d been writing with. He’s not sure Bessie would last as an officer’s wife on the frontier and wants to send her back to Boston. However, plans change when he has to quickly move to Fort Bowie, Arizona, and must take Bessie with him. He quickly learns that Bessie is different and might be able to adapt to life on the frontier if he gives her a chance. But will the dangers of living on the frontier be too much for Bessie and Jasper to handle? Can they learn to love a stranger?

Colleen Coble is one of my favorite authors and she captures the reader’s attention right from the start. I was seriously frustrated with Lenore’s immature actions and really felt sorry for Bessie’s predicament, but I was warmed by Bessie’s love for her sister. As you can tell, my emotions got all tore up by these sisters. I enjoyed getting to know Bessie and Jasper and how they dealt with different situations as they grew together as a couple.

Side note: I just realized that this book was a reprint and part of a series but it read well by itself. Also, I’m not quite sure why it’s included in her Wyoming series since the book mainly takes place in Arizona.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical romance.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Book Review: All Summer Long by Melody Carlson

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All Summer Long: A San Francisco Romance
by Melody Carlson
Rating: 4/5
Book 2 in the Follow Your Heart Series
Revell – Fiction | Contemporary Romance

Tia D’Amico is excited to move from small town Washington to big city San Francisco in order to help her aunt as the new chef for her dinner cruise ship. When Tia discovers that her aunt has hired Leo Parker to be the captain of the old luxury yacht, she has to work at keeping her heart from exploding outside her chest when she sees her former crush from sailing camp. Her hopes are crushed when she learns that Leo’s heart is already taken. Will Tia be able to follow her dreams and steal the heart of her prince?

Melody Carlson is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors. She writes in such an easy manner and the reader just gobbles all the romance up. I always find it difficult to put her books down and like to read it all in one sitting. I really enjoyed getting to know Tia and Leo’s characters and couldn’t wait to read more. Also, all the food mentioned in the story left me salivating, so I’d read with some snacks nearby.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fun and light contemporary romance for the summer!

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Book Review: Honor Redeemed by Christine Johnson

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Honor Redeemed
by Christine Johnson
Rating: 4/5
Book 2 of Keys of Promise Series
Revell – Fiction | Historical Romance

After losing her parents, Prosperity Jones sets out to meet with her fiancé who is stationed in Key West. Taking a leap of faith that everything will work out, she follows her heart to the only other person she loves, Lt. David Latham. Arriving penniless, Prosperity is hurt and confused when she learns that her beloved fiancé is already married to another woman. What will she do to survive? How could her faithful David do this to her? Upset w desperate, Prosperity proceeds to find a new home and occupation with the help of some friends. Will her broken heart ever be whole again?

Having never read a book by Christine Johnson, I was uncertain what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised at the wonderfully descriptive writing that took me back to the 1850s in Key West. Even though this was book 2 in the series, the story could be read without reading the first (although now I want to read the first book). Johnson beautifully tells both sides of this story and the reader can really feel all of the emotions that Prosperity and David go through. The plot was not as predictable as I thought it would be (just from reading the back cover), which I found refreshing.

I highly recommend this book for someone who enjoys a historical romance with vivid imagery.

I received this book for free from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

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The Beautiful Pretender
by Melanie Dickerson
Rating: 5 of 5
A Medieval Fairy Tale Book 2
Thomas Nelson – Fiction | Historical Romance

Although he is the most powerful man in the region, the margrave is powerless to refuse the need for a bride and it must happen in 2 weeks. In order to choose a worthy bride, he and his advisors cook up a plan to invite ten noble ladies (whom the king approves) and test them.

When the Earl of Plimmwald cannot send his wayward daughter to the margrave, he chooses to send Avelina, her maidservant, in her stead. Avelina must be respectful but not allow the margrave to notice her. She tries her best to avoid scrutiny but despite her best efforts, the margrave still continues to notice and favor her. When lives are endangered, can Avelina and the margrave figure out who’s behind it in time to save lives? Can Avelina deny her feelings for the margrave? What will happen to her once the truth is discovered?

I am such a HUGE fan of Melanie Dickerson and her fairy tale romances. She is incredibly talented in writing historical fiction and I can never put her books down. I found this story  not just romantic but fun, interesting, and exciting to read. I loved the two main characters and how they interacted. I can relate to the search for love and wanting to test another’s character.

You won’t want to miss this book. Although this book is the second in the series, you can read this one as a standalone, but the first book in the series is also a fun read, which I would also highly recommend.

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

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Sea Rose Lane
by Irene Hannon
Rating: 4 of 5
Book 2 of Hope Harbor series
Revell – Fiction | Contemporary Romance

When life does not go as planned and attorney Eric Nash loses his job, he heads back to his hometown hoping to lay low and rest while finding a new job. What he finds is a work in progress — his father is converting their home into a bed and breakfast with the help of BJ Stevens, a gorgeous architect and contractor.

As they both fight the attraction between them, they work together to improve the lives of the Hope Harbor seniors and possibly find what they were meant to do all along. Can Eric find a reason to stay? Will BJ trust another man after all that she’s been through?

I loved returning to Hope Harbor. Irene Hannon’s writing is so easy to get caught up in and  I always love the characters that she creates. The reader feels like they are right there in Hope Harbor with Eric and BJ. Hannon is so talented and definitely one of my favorite authors. I always love how she keeps you guessing till the end.

I highly recommend this book. Even though it is part of a series, this book can be read as a standalone novel without being confusing. This book would make a fun and romantic summer read.

I received this book for free from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.