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Nov 25, 2015

The Gifting Trilogy by K.E. Ganshert

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Book one of The Gifting Trilogy by K.E. Ganshert

If science is right, then I am crazy. And crazy is dangerous.

Tess Eckhart has always felt things nobody else can feel. Then the Ouija board incident happens at a high school party. Her complete freak out sends her family across the country--next to a nationally-renowned facility for the mentally ill. Worried Tess suffers from the same illness that tormented her grandmother, her parents insist she see a psychiatrist.

Tess is more concerned about fitting in at her new school, and hiding the fact that she's seeing a therapist at the Edward Brooks Facility. She's used to whispers and stares, but when it comes to Luka Williams, a reluctantly popular boy in her class, she's unused to a stare that intense. Then the headaches start, and the seemingly prophetic dreams that haunt her at night. As Tess tries to hide them, she becomes increasingly convinced that Luka knows something--that he might somehow be responsible.

But what if she's wrong? What if Luka Williams is the only thing separating her from a madness too terrifying to fathom?
Somewhere around November 15th I had decided I was going to read something that I wanted to read, something that didn't require a review kind of thing especially since I was coming up on a week long vacation. So I decided to pick up my Kindle Voyage and peruse my large collection. I came upon The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert, (a.k.a Katie Ganshert) and decided this was perfect, and I already had the whole trilogy. A really neat premise - something different when we are talking about supernatural things and how they fit into our reality. I completely loved the character build up of Tess, and the cutest boy in town, Luka along with their relationship. Taking a look back at the whole trilogy, it seems like so long ago when the two of them were sharing classes together in an affluent part of California.
Book #2

I read The Gifting in less than four days, and moved on immediately to book two as I was totally hooked and there was some cliffhanging action going on. In The Awakening there is a lot of action and thrills as we enter into a completely new norm for the characters. The characters have gifts, but the 'other side' is trying very hard to eradicate the world of those people with gifts. The gifts we would normally see as psychosis are actually some really cool abilities that are tailored to fit together in a group attack against evil. More characters are introduced in the second installment which add to the intrigue and the suspense that is building before the ultimate finale: The Gathering.
The final installment

"Darkness is a tricky thing. Especially when it cloaks itself in light."

Luka isn’t dead. He’s not beyond saving. Tess knows because she saw him with her own eyes. After what she saw, she’s sure of one thing: If they don’t rescue him soon, Luka won’t be Luka anymore.
If only she could convince the other members of the hub. They’re not sure Tess saw what she claims she saw. And they’re preoccupied by the fact that their kind is being systematically eradicated. Answers lie in an ancient prophecy, one that revolves around a seventeen-year-old girl who never asked for any of this.
K.E. Ganshert’s final installment in The Gifting Series brings readers on an action-packed journey through loss, sacrifice, betrayal, and the impossible choice between what we want most and what we know is right.
The final installment really did a fantastic job of completely pulling off the whole entire supernatural/good side versus the evil/bad side. I loved the creativity and the imagination of the series, and I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face a couple of times. Such a fantastic job of writing and storytelling, I sincerely hope that Katie Ganshert does another series like this again. Five stars all around. Thank you to Katie for such a wonderful adventure I've had the last ten days with the trilogy. I really enjoyed reading for pleasure again, but I am really going to miss these special characters.

Go check out the first installment on Amazon, it is free for the taking!

Nov 22, 2015

Resolution of sorts..more like an epiphany..

Sunday, November 22, 2015
I know it's early for New Years' Resolutions, but I just thought of something beneficial to my sanity that maybe if I put it down to words for the public to hold me to it, perhaps I will adhere to it:

I think I've discovered the most amazing and guilt free resolution perfect for me! NO MORE REVIEW BOOKS! I am so enjoying just reading WTF I want to right now. Last week I was not approved to receive and review Julie Klassen's newest upcoming novel, and that was like a slap in the face especially since I missed her last one. I love her work and the four novels which I have been blessed to read have all been review books. I have already gone back and bought the few I had missed that came out before I had started reviewing her books, but I haven't gotten around to them because I've been so busy reading newer REVIEW books. 

And today I realized it was a good time to just forget all that jazz with the 'must post review on this site, this site, and that site'. Yes, it's a review book for free. But really why do I torture myself with all these "mandatory" reads with rules attached? I have a large stash of books that I own, and my Goodreads shelf laughs at me if I try to shelve more.

Because that small number of 1,143 books is the number of books that I know I have a real living physical copy in my house somewhere that I can pick up and read at any moment of free time (there's that laughter again). And then I go look at my Kindle Voyage and there's that small number of 1,866 kindle books hanging out in that black hole.

So you know what, Bethany House, my favorite Inspirational Publisher out there? Thank you again for another gift of wisdom. I shall review my own books.
If I feel like reviewing them, that is. 


Nov 15, 2015

On This Foundation (Restoration Chronicles #3) by Lynn Austin

Sunday, November 15, 2015
Conclusion of a fantastic biblical series

On This Foundation (Restoration Chronicles #3) by Lynn Austin
 -easily read as a stand-alone!
Biblical fiction, paperback 466 pages
Bethany House, September 2015
Review copy provided by Bethany House in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviews of the previous novels in the series:
Return To Me
Keepers Of The Covenant

The Powerful Concluding Novel to The Restoration Chronicles
When news that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire, Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, seeks God's guidance. After fasting and prayer, he's given leave to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall, not anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.
The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and halt the work. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, many families resorting to selling their children as bond servants just to keep from starving.
Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is a powerful exploration of faith in the midst of oppression, and hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.
The Restoration Chronicles is the newest series by author Lynn Austin; her previous works in this series were easily my favorites. This third installment brings us the story of Nehemeiah as he pursues his calling to rebuild the protective walls surrounding Jerusalem which have been in ruins for nearly one hundred and fifty years. However, upon his return to his ancestral home to act as governor of Judah, Nehemiah realizes it's not only the walls that require rebuilding.

The village is suffering due to drought and the wealthier noblemen find it easy to flaunt their riches and take advantage of the poor, even enacting laws of the Torah to enslave those who are less fortunate. Austin demonstrates this through both the eyes of the rich and the poor with Malkijah and his new bond servant Nava. Nava must work as his bond servant for seven years in order to repay owed taxes, and Nehemiah implores all of the noblemen to return the bond servants to their families and show mercy.

As the community unites to rebuild Jerusalem's wall, God's hand can be seen as his guide as the impossible task seemed to occur seamlessly- yet it demonstrated how the people's simple faith can conquer all. Nehemiah was a smart man who combined his faith with action and had the willingness to fight for those building the wall, some at their peril. He armed the workers, and worked tirelessly to rebuild the walls and gates in record time.

Nehemiah's actions cause a deeper rift with the noblemen when he is soon seen as a savior to the poor, and conspiracies develop among the more powerful to rid them of the governor. Through it all, themes of God's mercy and His love are running as undercurrents, and Nava learns from those more faithful how to rebuild her own faith and trust in the Lord who she feels has abandoned her during troubled times.

"God is at work. We can't understand how He chooses to answer our prayers, but He will answer them, one way or another.

Don't ask God what He's doing. Ask Him what you should be doing."

The narratives alternate between Malkijah's betrothed, Chana, Nava the servant, and Nehemiah, to fully enhance all points of view of the novel, and each enhanced God's messages through Austin's powerful storytelling. She expertly expands slices of scripture with the culture of biblical times and gives us an unforgettable and believable anecdote of the religious heritage which is a gift in itself. Her stories present theselves as that - a story. I do not find them preachy, nor condemning, I simply relish the author's passion for retelling a biblical source in a very inspiring way. The Restoration Chronicles series is an extraordinary work of biblical fiction and I highly recommend this series as a whole, though they each represent different scripture stories and can be read alone.

Nov 11, 2015

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz
Revell, September 2015
$14.99, pb, 400 pages
Review copy provided in exchange for review for Historical Novels Review
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 stars
The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.

There comes a time when I regret choosing a novel to review for another review outlet when I need to hold my thoughts for months on end when I would prefer to just shout SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE.

When I review for another "professional" type of outlet, I feel limited with my word count restraint, I pay more attention to the words I choose, I re-read and proof my review and take thoughts out, and then I am left with a shell of a review within the word count limits and I don't feel like I get my point across.

Such as this was, with The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz. Reading this in June, when the review cannot post till the fall, and I feel sad that I cannot just simply tell everyone immediately how much I loved this novel with its many facets.

Firstly, it was my first Laura Frantz novel, though I do own some of the others due to other reviewers' recommendations, I rarely get around to reading a book simply for pleasure, meaning when there is not an expected review attached to it. When I was chosen to review this one for HNR, I was eager to finally get my chance to see what all the clamor was about for inspirational novelist Laura Frantz. And I was not disappointed.

Secondly, this novel features an era that inspirational publishers tend to shy away from, though I have no earthly idea why. They have published Frontier novels, Amish novels, Civil War novels, Regency novels. But they skip the American Revolution, and there are so many stories to be told! Please, I BEG YOU! Start publishing more novels on the Revolutionary War!

Frantz does well with the setting of the aftermath of the war, but this is not a novel with details about the war. She shows it as part of the character's past, and demonstrates how royal sympathies conflict with those of the colonials. I am dying for more of the era.

If you are wondering why I only gave the novel four and a half stars as opposed to five, it is because I would have preferred just a touch more of the actual events of the era- or the allusion of, although the era was adequately portrayed as a whole in reference to the social classes and stereotypes. When I read hist-fic, I do like to learn a bit of something along the way, which is why I got so caught up in "royal" historicals. I also admit to having a dry spell where I didn't pick up the book for a couple days in the middle of reading it, so I guess it had started to be just a bit too slow at some point. But again .. I obviously still definitely recommend this one for lovers of the inspirational fiction genre; I see no reason why many readers won't give her the five star prize for this.

Anyway, here's to the actual review I submitted to HNR:

As Sophie Menzies waited patiently for her brother to return safely from the American War of Independence, her home was in the process of being seized by the government. Her neighbor General Seamus Ogilvy did return as a war hero and was sympathetic to Sophie who was alone at Three Chimneys. Needing a helper for his young daughter, he was kind to Sophie and offered a reprieve from the anonymous threats aimed at Sophie's once-Tory household. Daughter Lily Cate was an integral character to the story as the budding romance between Sophie and Seamus blossomed and she was adored by them both. A refreshing twist was that the woman who managed to save the day was a colored woman whose integrity ultimately secured Seamus's and Sophie's marriage, allowing Sophie to remain Mistress of Tall Acre. But when tragedy strikes, the couple needed to overcome both emotional and legal obstacles in order to remain together at Tall Acre.

Kindling a slow paced romance allowed the reader to feel the tension and become fully invested with the story which included several sub-plots. As the story arc progressed, the moods would change as we experienced grief, loneliness, fear, hope and joy alongside Sophie and Seamus. The tense setting of the post-American Revolution was shown as an uneasy time with unregulated government and progressive ideals; a country of colonists struggling to adapt to its new found independent status where sympathies between neighbors range from loyalists and Tories to colonial settlers eager for a new beginning. The novelist includes quotes of faith to guide the unforgettable characters' path and they turn to Him to lighten their load, making this novel a beautiful blend of inspirational and historical romantic fiction. It is no surprise that Laura Frantz is a favorite of the genre.

And here is where I tell you that if you haven't gotten to read Frantz's previous works, feel free to start here. Her latest works were her Ballantyne Legacy series, and I tend to stay away from series as a personal choice (until I know I have all the books and the time to read them close together). This stand-alone is perfect to get introduced to Frantz, though her earliest novels are also stand alone. And definitely moving up in my TBR list.

Nov 4, 2015

The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick
Revell, September 2015
Review copy provided in exchange for review for Historical Novels Review
Burton Book Review Rating: 3.5 stars
Read my posts mentioning Jane Kirkpatrick works

Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now the young mother of two children, Eliza faces a different kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants them to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her departed mother's grave--and returning to the land of her captivity. Eliza longs to know how her mother, an early missionary to the Nez Perce Indians, dealt with the challenges of life with a sometimes difficult husband and with her daughter's captivity.

When Eliza is finally given her mother's diary, she is stunned to find that her own memories are not necessarily the whole story of what happened. Can she lay the dark past to rest and move on? Or will her childhood memories always hold her hostage?

Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick's latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman's heart. Readers will find themselves swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.

Jane Kirkpatrick's historical novels re-imagine a period of time many have forgotten, usually featuring important members of society of that particular time. The Memory Weaver brings us the story of Eliza Spalding growing up among the wilderness of the Oregon Trail in the mid 1800's and how she and her family dealt with the tragic event of the Indian Massacre of 1847. The Spalding family is a missionary family that traveled with the Whitman family in order to bring the "Book of Heaven" to the Indians across the Rockies.

At age ten, Eliza witnesses the horrible tragedy when the Whitmans were killed along with about a dozen others spurred on by a measles outbreak among the Cayuse Indians. Eliza's life is portrayed as reliving certain memories and how she eventually learns to interpret the memories from what she eventually believed happened and reality. Her tenacity, loyalty, strength and devotion to her family are all traits that we come to admire about Eliza, and the struggles between the Indians and pioneers are just one of the themes interlaced throughout the story. Eliza's relationships with her stubborn father, her sisters, and husband carry the story forward as we marvel at the hardships of the pioneer families.

Since the novel is written to closely mirror actual events, the final push towards the end of the novel focused more on Eliza's need to find peace and understanding with her memories, which stalled the enjoyment of the novel. Even still, the novel imparts an intriguing slice of America's history with several tear-jerking moments as we recount Eliza's steps as the first white baby to survive adulthood in the Oregon Territory.