Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NOW READING: HOW DO I LOVE THEE ~ NANCY MOSER

Generally I am not a huge fan of poetry.  Mostly I find it annoying; circling a subject, being way too subtle, and I find myself thinking just say what you're trying to say, already!

One exception to my general dislike of poetry is the poem How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

I am now reading the novel How Do I Love Thee by Nancy Moser, a biographical novel of Elizabeth Barrett's romance with fellow poet Robert Browning.

The year is 1845. After her brother dies in a sailing accident, the grief-stricken, sickly Elizabeth Barrett becomes a recluse. She is a published poet - but a virtual prisoner in her own home. Blind family loyalty ties her to a tyrannical father who forbids any of his children to marry. She resigns herself to simply existing. That is, until the letter arrives... "I love your verses with all my heart," writes Robert Browning, a fellow poet. As friendly correspondence gives way to something more, Elizabeth discovers that Robert's love is not for her words alone. Could it be that God might grant her more than mere existence? And can she risk defying her father in pursuit of happiness?



BEHIND THE STORY: The love story of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning seems impossible—and it would have been, if God hadn't been involved. Over and over I was moved by evidence of Divine intervention. These two people needed each other so much that God went to great lengths to bring them together. They saved each other. It's truly an inspiring story. Also inspiring are the love sonnets Elizabeth wrote - for her eyes only.  As a bonus in this book, we have included the "Sonnets from the Portuguese" in the back of the book. Read them for yourself! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...



Monday, June 25, 2012

TYNDALE BLOG NETWORK REVIEW: BEES IN THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN ~ MAUREEN LANG


John Davenport couldn't give his daughter the life she deserved.  Without a mother to teach her the ways of a lady, he decided to have her raised by the finest of boarding schools.  So, Meg Davenport grew up in the best, most exclusive boarding school, destined to shape her into a perfect lady.  She turns into Madame Marisse’s most gifted student, but only by ruthlessly supressing the rebel inside.  Meg grew up without family, without love and without happiness.  She might outwardly be the perfect lady, but the only thing Meg truly wants is to break free, to follow her own path, to live an adventure.  After several failed escape attempts over the years, a dejected Meg finally resolves herself to her fate, but when her absentee father dies, she finally learns the truth – he was a very talented thief!  Suddenly so many things make sense; Meg finally begins to understand the rebel side of herself, and in an attempt to understand the man everybody claims loved her more than life itself, Meg is determined to follow in his footsteps.  The only problem is she needs the help of a man she can’t help but resent; Ian Maguire, her father’s substitute son – the boy he loved who grew to be his protégé, the boy who took her place in her father’s heart (or so she believes).  Loyal to the father figure who rescued him from the streets, Ian knows that John’s greatest hope in life was that his daughter become a perfect lady, marry a wealthy gentleman and live a life of luxury.  The last thing John would have tolerated was his precious daughter following in his footsteps, but when the shadier members of John’s crew learns of Meg’s connection to one of New York’s wealthiest families that could help them pull off the biggest heist of their careers, they’re all too eager to welcome her into their gang.  With Meg desperate to prove herself her father’s daughter, desperate to prove he was wrong in shutting her out of his life, and men Ian doesn’t trust willing to help her, how can he not protect her by rather helping her himself?  And if he can somehow get his hands on the famous Pemberton gold, it’s a win-win situation… right?




Ian is not on speaking terms with God – his father was a missionary, and on a ship from Ireland, moving to America where he would spread the Gospel, Ian’s father died along with his mother and siblings, leaving only Ian.  Ian can’t believe God is a loving Heavenly Father when God stripped him of love and security at a young age.  Meg also believes God exists, she just doesn’t believe He has much interest in her life. If He had, surely He would have answered her prayers and she would have been raised by a loving father; At the very least, He would have helped just one of her escape attempts succeed, granting her a life of freedom from the suffocating rules and regulations that held her prisoner.  While adopting this life of deception and thievery, she ruthlessly suppresses her conscience, just as she once supressed her rebellion.  Surely God doesn’t care what Meg does or does not do?

As Meg and Ian work together to pull of the heist of all heists, the unthinkable happens.  Meg gets too attached to the family she is setting up to be burglarised, and Ian grows a conscience.  With Ian suspecting he has finally come to love a person more than he loves money (how can he risk Meg’s freedom?), Meg suspecting she doesn’t have the heart to live her father’s life after all (How can she steal from people she has come to love?), and a God who does seem to care about their plans very much (why else would things start going wrong?), can Meg and Ian find a way towards love and happiness instead of prison?  Will they get over their guilt and doubt and give their hearts to each other, and more importantly, will they finally give their hearts to God?

I thoroughly enjoyed Maureen Lang’s Bees in the butterfly garden, though at first I couldn’t imagine how Christian lit could centre around thieves – surely, at the end of the day you can’t justify stealing professionally.  But that is exactly what is so striking about this book.  The reader shares Meg and Ian’s guilt.  I was quite uncomfortable being witness to their deception of the lovely Claire and Nelson Pemberton; I could never share their excitement when their plans seemed set to succeed, and several times I wished I could just sit these two down for a good, long chat.  The constant use of the painting depicting Jesus’ crucifixion between two thieves was a very clever tool Lang used to keep reminding Ian and Meg of their wrongdoing and what they were truly risking.  The painting became a central character in the novel, so strong was its presence. 

I particularly liked the characters in the novel.  Lang did a great job in creating diverse characters, each with their own motivations.  I especially enjoyed Meg and Ian's internal struggles.  On one hand I would have liked a more pronounced conversion for each of them, but then again, the gentle subtlety with which they both ultimately give their hearts to God suggests that they have been wanting and waiting to do it all along. 

Bees in the butterfly garden is a lovely story about the importance of justice, mercy and grace (the Pemberton family has a beautiful tradition which also explains the difference between the three), which is communicated through a story of thievery and deceit - An interesting and effective approach that captivates the reader.



Maureen Lang has always had a passion for writing, particularly stories that combine romance and history. Her debut inspirational novel, Pieces of Silver, was a Christy Award finalist in the historical category. She has since written seven novels, including a recent trilogy of romances set against the dramatic backdrop of WWI—Look to the East, Whisper on the Wind, and Springtime of the Spirit. She turns to more peaceful (though no less dramatic) times in Bees in the Butterfly Garden, her upcoming release set among Fifth Avenue's finest during the Gilded Age of New York.  In addition to critical acclaim, Maureen's writing has garnered numerous industry honors. She has won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, and a Holt Medallion, and has been a finalist for Romance Writers of America's Rita, the American Christian Fiction Writers' Carol awards, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence ~ Tyndale.




Product information:
Title: Bees In The Butterfly Garden
Author: Maureen Lang
Number of pages: 432
Publisher: Tyndale House
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 1414364466
ISBN-13: 978-1414364469 




Tyndale House Publishers has kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my review.  I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review, nor did this review lead to any personal gain other than the joy of being part of the Tyndale Blog Network. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

BREAKING DAWN PART 2 OFFICIAL TRAILER

Following last week's release of new movie stills, today Summit released the new The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 official trailer:



The over one minute trailer shows Bella embracing her new vampire self, as does Jacob, some Renesmee bonding time followed by Alice's vision that the Volturi have heard of Renesmee's existence.  Believing her to be an immortal child (a human child bitten to become a vampire, very illegal amongst the vampires), Aro finally has the excuse he's been waiting for; they are on their way - Not to destroy all the Cullens... Aro wants Bella, Edward and Alice to join the Volturi, and he's willing to kill their family to make it happen.  Desperate, the Cullens go in search of fellow vampires; covens they know, strangers and nomads - they want an audience for their "meeting" with the Volturi.  How many vampires will come to their aid, and more importantly, will the Volturi stop to listen before destroying all Bella holds dear?

If you haven't read the book, November 16th will tell.

NOW READING: BEES IN THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN ~ MAUREEN LANG

I am now reading my next book for Tyndale Review.



Bees in the butterfly garden by Maureen Lang; Book 1 in The Gilded Legacy series.
Raised in an exclusive boarding school among Fifth Avenue’s finest, Meg Davenport has all she’s ever needed... but none of the things she’s wanted most, like family, or dreams of a future that includes anything other than finding a suitable match. So when her distant father dies, she seizes the chance to throw etiquette aside and do as she pleases. Especially when she learns that John Davenport wasn’t the wealthy businessman she thought, but one of the Gilded Age’s most talented thieves.

Poised to lead those loyal to Meg’s father, Ian Maguire knows the last thing his mentor would have wanted is for his beloved daughter to follow in his footsteps. Yet Meg is determined, and her connections to one of New York’s wealthiest families could help Ian pull off his biggest heist yet. But are they both in over their heads? And in trying to gain everything, will they end up losing it all? ~ Maureen Lang website. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

REVIEW: MOCKINGJAY ~ SUZANNE COLLINS

Katniss Everdeen keeps beating the odds.  She has survived the Hunger Games, but instead of finally being freed from the arena, the whole of Panem becomes the arena as the revolution she has started catches fire, and the Districts start turning on the Capitol.  It turns out District 13 was never destroyed by the Capitol – they started the rebellion in the dark days, but when the Districts lost the fight they withdrew themselves from the fray, and being in possession of weapons of mass destruction they convinced the Capitol to portray District 13 as destroyed, and District 13 was cut off from the greater Panem.  Now the survivors of the District 12 bombings (including Katniss and Gale’s families) are living in District 13, which has become the command centre of the rebellion.  Rescued purposely to publicly lead the war against the elite, Katniss officially becomes the Mockingjay – the symbol of the rebellion.  As long as Katniss is alive, the rebellion is alive.  The fight for freedom has begun.  The question is, how long can Katniss keep up the fight knowing that Peeta is held prisoner by President Snow, and that everything she does in defiance of the Capitol will directly lead to Peeta’s torture? 


Suzanne CollinsMockingjay, the conclusion of the Hunger Games trilogy, is nothing like I would have expected.  Instead of being portrayed a war hero, Katniss is ultimately made out to be a hopeless, shell–shocked lunatic; granted, to exonerate her from murder, but still.  The Girl on Fire, the Mockingjay, the girl who kick-started the rebellion is not portrayed as a hero – perhaps to bring home the point that in war there are no heroes; not really.  While The Hunger Games and Catching Fire do condemn senseless killings and the coldblooded way in which humans often treat each other, Mockingjay goes a step further and focuses on war.  Mockingjay questions just how far is acceptable to go in warfare – can you truly justify thinking and acting like the enemy? Just what is acceptable in war?  Bombing of hospitals, we can all agree, is not; but killing a majority of possibly innocent bystanders to simultaneously kill a few masterminds of the enemy?  This is where the grey areas start (for some of the characters, at least).  The character of Gale was best used for this purpose.  He was the one always willing to go one step further in the name of war, always willing to sacrifice the innocent for the greater good.  In questioning Gale, the reader truly questions how far is too far.   What can be justified in the name of war; what can be excused; what can be forgiven – and what will never be?  Needless to say I was very upset by the major characters who die for the cause, and then the most innocent of all who is just a casualty of war – all combine to illustrate just how screwed up war-like thinking is.

Katniss' message to the Capitol soon becomes a slogan: If we burn, you burn with us. This one sentence captures the core message. In war everybody suffers.


*Spoiler alert*

I was very surprised and saddened by the deaths of Cinna (I know he technically died in Catching Fire, but I've been hoping he's still alive), Finnick and Prim – three wonderful characters who were three of my favourites – but I suspect Collins killed these three to illustrate the senselessness of it all, the waste of life and the long term effects upon victims’ loved ones.  Cinna, the truest of friends is killed for no good reason (unless you count loving and helping Katniss as a good reason); Prim, a kind doctor dies trying to save lives;  Brave young newlywed Finnick dies at the hands of the enemy, leaving his pregnant wife a widow – his son doomed to grow up without a father.  These are the realities of war.  It creates widows, widowers and orphans.  Children and innocent bystanders are usually the ones who suffer most.  Kind aid workers are not exempt.
Peeta’s erratic behaviour following his rescue from torture does a great job of illustrating the ways in which war can change the kindest of people.  The way how certain scenarios bring out the worst in him is reminiscent of post-traumatic stress disorder which all soldiers and victims of war live with to a certain degree.  Katniss and Peeta are also both very damaged by the final act of warfare, physically and mentally, and their relationship never truly gets back to the better moments of happier days – they both suffer long term effects from the war – very realistic. They go on, but the nightmares and the fears remain.  They overcome the issues that made them hate each other for a while, they learn to love each other again (despite the physical and emotional scars – the truest form of love, really) and they build a life together.  But they never quite go back to being the happy hunter and the gentle baker.  And then there’s Haymitch, who never gets over his alcoholism.  War changes people.  For the worse.  In most cases, irrevocably. 

I expected, and hoped for, a happy, shiny conclusion to the trilogy – but come on, what was I thinking?  Surely a series centred on people forced to kill others for survival can’t realistically have a happy, shiny conclusion.  Because that’s the message of it all – war destroys people.  Living through something so horrific, it’s impossible to go back to the way you were before.  You can accept, you can adjust, you can move on – but you can’t undo the damage.

The Hunger Games trilogy is more than a young adult book series about sticking it to the man; it does a beautiful job of taking a hard look at the harsh realities of war.



Product information:
Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Number of pages: 400
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year: 2010
ISBN-10: 0439023513
ISBN-13: 978-0439023511 

Friday, June 15, 2012

NOW READING: MOCKINGJAY ~ SUZANNE COLLINS

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

REVIEW: RANSOME'S HONOR ~ KAYE DACUS


Julia Witherington meets William Ransome on board her father’s ship when she is just ten years old, and he fifteen.  With Julia disguised as a boy, William takes her under his wing, looks out for her and becomes her friend.  As the years go by Julia and William fall in love, and when Julia is seventeen William asks her father for Julia’s hand in marriage.  The whole of Portsmouth expects the happy announcement at a ball.  William and Julia dance, and go for a walk in the garden; but then the unthinkable happens.  Instead of a marriage proposal, William makes it clear that there won’t be one.  He truly loves Julia, but being a poor sailor he believes he has nothing to offer her.   Despite her father’s blessing and Julia’s obvious infatuation, he decides to make something of himself before he makes her his wife.  Believing William only courted her to gain her father’s good graces and ensure a promotion in the Navy, a devastated and heartbroken Julia vows to never forgive William.  She returns to her father’s sugar plantation in Jamaica and devotes all of her time, dedication and love to the running of her beloved Tierra Dulce. 


Twelve years go by before Julia once again returns to Portsmouth.  Still unmarried, Julia is labelled a spinster and is pitied by the wealthy ladies of society that she never found a husband.  Unbeknownst to the ladies, however, Julia has received and turned down a number of proposals – she no longer has any interest in being a wife.  As fate would have it William Ransome, now a Captain in the Navy, is also back in town, awaiting his new orders from the Admiralty.  Despite his intention to reclaim her heart and hand once he gained prestige and wealth, as the years went by William convinced himself Julia would never forgive him.  Forced to face the woman he hurt and humiliated, William constantly regrets his decision to walk away from her, but the pain and resentment in Julia’s eyes, as well as William’s own guilt, keep him from pursuing her once more.  However, the more time they spend together, William can’t help but wonder if Julia might still love him.  Why else has a beautiful, smart and funny girl like her never married?  Could it be that she’s been waiting for him?

When Julia’s long lost aunt makes an unexpected reappearance in their lives, Julia’s father enlists Lady Pembroke to be Julia’s companion.  Lady Pembroke soon introduces Julia to her cousin Drake, and with the regularity with which Lady Pembroke throws Julia and Drake together, it soon becomes clear that she hopes an engagement will be forthcoming.  Too bad for Lady Pembroke, Julia can’t stand her snobbish rake of a cousin.  As Drake has squandered his family fortune as is heavily in debt thanks to his gambling, he and Lady Pembroke are equally intent and determined for Drake to marry Julia to get their hands on her family fortune.  As Julia’s brother was lost at sea, Julia is her father’s sole heir and along with a thirty thousand pound dowry, her husband would also gain all of Admiral Witherington’s properties, including the very profitable sugar plantation Julia so loves.  The only problem is, should Julia remain unmarried, she will gain her inheritance on her thirtieth birthday… which is six weeks away.

When Admiral Witherington is sent to London on business, Julia is at the mercy of Lady Pembroke's rules.  As an unmarried woman Julia must abide by the wishes of the relative in whose care she finds herself – at the moment it is the very conniving Lady Pembroke.  When she forbids Julia to social, and all but locks her up in the house, Julia assures herself that it is only for a short while.  On her thirtieth birthday Julia will gain her freedom, and will no longer have to submit to Lady Pembroke.  However, at a dinner party, a confidant of Julia’s overhears Lady Pembroke and Drake planning to secretly forge a letter of consent from Julia’s father, and have Julia and Drake’s engagement published – by which time Julia will bring dishonour to her father should she refuse to marry Drake.  When their plan is discovered to start spreading rumours about Julia and Drake’s engagement at the next ball, Julia is forced to take matters into her own hands.  If she can’t stop an engagement, she can at least choose her fiancée.  Desperate, Julia turns to the only respectable bachelor she can think of, the only man her father will not object her marrying.  His most trusted Captain, William Ransome.  Julia approaches her proposal as a business deal – she offers William her thirty thousand pound dowry and names him her father’s heir apparent if he will marry her for one year.  All that she asks is that she be allowed to return to Tierra Dulce when the marriage is annulled.  The only woman he's ever loved is willing to marry him; William immediately agrees – only he has no intention of ever allowing her an annulment.



Ransome’s Honor by Kaye Dacus did not quite turn out to be the book I had expected.  Surely it’s a good thing when a book is unpredictable, but the problem is I am sure this book is supposed to be a love story – I didn’t find it to be one.  To me, the book is more about Lady Pembroke's endless scheming than William and Julia’s romance.  This got on my nerves.  Julia, for all mention of her independence and self-sufficiency, is constantly being bested by Lady Pembroke.  Seriously, you know the woman wants her hands on your fortune, yet you keep thinking she might be genuine this time?  I got so annoyed by Julia’s following Lady Pembroke's rules for the greater part of the novel.  You’re a grown woman! What is six weeks in the great scheme of things?  Just tell the woman to pack her bags and get out of your house. 

Having said that, the book wasn’t terrible.  William and Julia really do love each other (though they don’t bother to tell each other even once – I’m a romantic, I need these things), and he does race to her rescue several times.  Very chivalrous.  Ransome’s Honor is book one of a trilogy, and I will very likely read the next two.  Book 2 will follow William’s sister as she secretly boards his ship bound for Jamaica.  I quite like Charlotte Ransome, as I like Ned Cochrane who will vie for her heart, and as book 2 will be placed on sea, I am actually looking forward to it.  I love books set on sea.  Book 3 will follow William, Julia, Ned and Charlotte, and as I assume I have seen the last of Lady Pembroke I am sure things will only get better from here.



Product information:
Title: Ransome's Honor
Author: Kaye Dacus
Number of pages: 352
Publisher: Harvest House
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 0736927530
ISBN-13: 978-0736927536 

BREAKING DAWN PART 2 ~ NEW IMAGES

Yesterday Entertainment Weekly published the first pic of Bella, Edward and Renesmee Cullen.  Today, they have published the two covers of their new issue, which gives us a much better look at Renesmee:




As if this isn't enough, EW is spoiling its readers with new stills from the movie!

Bella, Renesmee, Edward & Jacob

Bella & Renesmee

Renesmee & Jacob


This has to be my favourite still.  The scene were newborn vamp Bella arm-wrestles strong Emmett, is one of my favourites in the book.  Can't wait to see it on screen.

Renesmee, Senna and Zafrina.  I assume this is the scene where they are introduced.  Zafrina is one of my favourite new characters.

Kate and Tanya Denali. Kate is another of my new favourites.


Eleazer and Carmen, former Volturi now of the Denali coven

Nothing like new movie stills to get you excited for the movie release.  Five months to go.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BREAKING DAWN PART 2 ~ FIRST LOOK AT RENESMEE CULLEN

Entertainment Weekly has published this exclusive first look photo of Bella, Edward and Renesmee Cullen on their Facebook Page!


Great, great, great photo!  You still can't see much of her, but it's a great teaser.  I love how Bella and Edward are protecting her in this pic - that's exactly what Breaking Dawn Part 2 is all about. The subtle way Bella and Renesmee are holding hands is also a nice little touch.

She's quite a lot bigger than I had imagined Renesmee, but understandable in movie context.  Let's hope we get to see more of Renesmee in the yet to be released full BD pt2 trailer. 

NOW READING: RANSOME'S HONOR ~ KAYE DACUS


When young Julia Witherington doesn’t receive the proposal for marriage she expects from William Ransome, she determines to never forgive him. They go their separate ways—she returns to her family’s Caribbean plantation, and he returns to the Royal Navy.

Now, twelve years later, Julia is about to receive a substantial inheritance, including her beloved plantation. When unscrupulous relatives try to gain the inheritance by forcing her into a marriage, she turns to the only eligible man to whom her father, Admiral Sir Edward Witherington, will not object—his most trusted captain and the man who broke Julia’s heart, William Ransome. Julia offers William her thirty-thousand-pound dowry to feign marriage for one year, but then something she never imagined happens: She starts to fall in love with him again.

Can two people overcome their hurt, reconcile their conflicting desires, and find a way to be happy together? Duty and honor, faith and love are intertwined in this intriguing tale from the Regency era ~ Kaye Dacus website.

Monday, June 11, 2012

REVIEW: WORDS SPOKEN TRUE ~ ANN H. GABHART

Adriane Darcy’s mother died during Adriane’s birth.  Adriane grew up without a mother, acquired a stepmother who hated her, and mostly grew up in the office of The Tribune, her father’s newspaper.  Adriane loves the rush to print the best headlines first, and at times even takes to disguising herself as a man to get the stories first hand – very unladylike.  Adriane has never had much interest in being a proper lady, or any activities a proper lady must take part in.  She can’t sew, she hates gossip and she has no desire to ever get married.  However, it seems that Adriane has no choice.  When respectable, wealthy Stanley Jimson asks for Adriane’s hand in marriage (and by that I mean asks Adriane’s father, not even Adriane herself), she implores her father to deny the match.  She hardly even likes Stanley, much less loves him – but her father soon makes it clear that marriage is not about love; it’s about security, comfort and making a suitable match.  The truth is, however, that Stanley’s father (who also happens to be running for Senator) has invested a great deal of money in their precious newspaper.  When her father can’t pay his debts, Adriane becomes the settlement.  Forced to marry the dullest man in all the world, Adriane tries everything in her power to delay the engagement announcement and then the marriage, but it seems there is no way she can avoid this reality closing in on her.

Until she meets Blake Garrett, the editor of The Tribune’s greatest competition, The Herald.  Attracted to her father’s sworn enemy despite herself, Adriane takes to avoiding Blake at all costs -  which is hard as they seem to be covering the same events.  Coincidence or design?  When Blake confesses his love for Adriane and vows to find a way to marry her himself, can Adriane trust the man who holds her heart, or is it simply a ploy to destroy her father’s newspaper?  As if being surrounded by doubts and fears isn’t enough, the whole of Louisville is surrounded by danger when a serial killer known as The River Slasher torments the town.  Girls are ending up brutally murdered – with noses for  a story and hearts for truth, Adriane and Blake place themselves in danger when they join forces to trap the killer.  The only problem is, the trap they set might end up working too well, catching the two of them in its snares.


Words Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart is a lovely story set in 1850 Louisville.   The competing of two newspapers is very realistically done, and the detail to the workings of a 1850 newspaper is quite intriguing.  The story did start of very slow for me, and Blake and Adriane didn’t have nearly enough interaction to start with.  The story does, however, pick up speed from the halfway mark and quickly progresses from there.

I very much enjoyed Adriane and Blake’s journey.  Adriane’s plight is very realistically depicted.  Girls living in those times had little, if any choice who they married.  Love was not a factor.  Adriane’s panic often became my own – the sign of a  gifted writer. 

The only complaints I have is that the author’s note preceded the novel – in this case I was alerted to the fact that the Louisville riots really happened.  Before even starting to read the book, I thus knew that a riot would break out at some point.  As a reader I prefer to be surprised.  I love nothing more than an unexpected conclusion, and sadly I furthermore guessed the identity of the River Slasher very early on – I must say though, that this was due to Gabhart's excellent character development and attention to detail, something an author should never be faulted for.  I just wish the ending could have been more of a surprise to me, but I pretty much saw the whole conclusion coming. 

Words Spoken True is a sweet story of a frightened girl trusting God to provide the answer to her prayers.  If you’re in the mood for some light reading, this is the perfect book to unwind with.



Product information:
Title: Words Spoken True
Author: Ann H. Gabhart
Number of pages: 368
Publisher: Revell
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 0800720458
     

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

NOW READING: WORDS SPOKEN TRUE ~ ANN GABHART

One woman stands ready to defend her newspaper... even if it means losing out on love.


Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. She can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over a failing competing paper and the battle for readers gets fierce.

When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story – and the girl. Can he do both before it's too late?

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold readers in its grip until the very last page ~ Ann Gabhart website.

Monday, June 4, 2012

REVIEW: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: A STORM OF SWORDS 1 - STEEL AND SNOW ~ GEORGE R.R MARTIN

A Clash of Kings left us with some major cliffhangers, and in the author’s note preceding the first chapters, author George R.R Martin makes mention that A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow does not so much follow the events of A Clash Of Kings, but the events occur more simultaneously with the battle of the Blackwater at the end of A Clash Of Kings.  In A Storm of Swords 1 we follow the people of the realm as they deal with the aftermath of the Battle of  Blackwater.  We pick up with Catelyn Stark pressing a sword to Jaime Lannister’s heart, Arya Stark fleeing Harrenhall with Gendry and Hot Pie, Sansa Stark awaiting her fate after her engagement to King Joffrey is called off, Daenerys Targaryen finally moving to return to Westeros, Bran and Rickon Stark fleeing with the help of Meera and Jojen Reed, the Night’s Watch deciding to attack Mance Rayder and the wildlings rather than wait for them to reach the wall, and Jon Snow posing as a turncloak, unbeknownst to his black brothers. 


Where do the Kings find themselves?  King Stannis is recuperating after the failed attack on King’s Landing, King Joffrey prepares for his wedding to King Renley’s widow, an unexpected turn of events causes King Robb to lose some of his greatest bannermen.  The Ironmen weren’t mentioned this time around, so who knows what King Balon is up to?  Queen Daenerys is finally, slowly but surely, coming ever closer to battling the Kings for the iron throne that is hers by rights.  Her journey is quite eventful and managed to even have me break out in sweat once.  No kidding.  With her army she is finally on her way to Westeros. 

As for the others, Bran and Rickon part ways so that Rickon will be safe as Bran searches for the three eyed crow to better understand his abilities, and some of the Stark children must even part from their direwolves.  Can all be well in the realm when everyone is separated from their loved ones?  Jon Snow must pose as a turncloak joining the free folk, but true to his cause, can  he convince the wildlings that he is one of them?  How much of himself is he willing to sacrifice to the play the game?  Sansa must still navigate the games in King’s Landing as Arya must navigate the dangers of being on the run.  As Tywin Lannister takes up his position as Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister must deal with being sidelined after his success at the battle of Blackwater, and named Master of Coin, Tyrion is left with the task of getting King’s Landing out of debt.  Quite a mission.  Added to this Tyrion must hide Shae from his father’s loathing eyes, find proof that Cersei ordered him killed, and lastly take a step nobody in the Seven Kingdoms could ever have seen coming. 

There weren’t as many new characters introduced this time around, and my favourite has to be Lady Olenna, Margaery Tyrell’s grandmother.  What a delightful old lady!  Painfully honest and unwittingly hilarious, I wish there had been more of her in the book. 

A very interesting phenomenon is how Bran, Arya and Jon seem to slip into their direwolves’ subconscious; I’m very excited to see what this might mean in future.  Of course I’m still clinging to hope that Nymeria will return to Arya at some point!  Another fascinating aspect of this story is how very close the characters come to one another this time around, without knowing it.  At one point Arya is two days’ ride away from Robb and her mother, and Bran and Jon are only mere meters apart.

A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow is an action-packed read no less exciting than the previous books, and sure to keep you captivated until the end.  Every character's journey is unique and dangerous, and Mr Martin does a fabulous job of keeping everything straight.  Many times I was very impressed thinking just how finely he must have plotted everything before he even started writing - the A Song of Ice and Fire series is a literary masterpiece. 




Product Information:
Title: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords 1 - Steel and Snow
Author: George R.R Martin
Number of pages: 688
Publisher: Bantam
Year: 2000
ISBN-10: 9780007447848
ISBN-13: 9780007447848 

The HBO television Series Game of Thrones has been renewed for a third season, which will be based on A Storm of Swords 1.  To my delight Lady Olenna Redwyne, the Queen of Thorns will not be omitted from the series, and Meera and Jojen Reed will finally make their appearance! Other characters who will also make it to the Season 3 screen are Mance Rayder, Beric Dondarion, Edmure and Brynden Tully.  I quite like the Tully’s so I’m happy to finally have them join the tv series. King Stannis’ family, Lady Selyse and Shireen will also be cast for Season 3. 

Speaking of the television series, season 2  of Game of Thrones was quite different from the book (A clash of kings).  My favourite new characters (Meera and Jojen) were left out, Arya served Tywin Lannister, Shae served Sansa, Dany’s dragons were stolen, Ygritte trapped Jon… the list goes on.  The changes didn’t bother me too much as the story still flowed nicely, and the major outcomes remained the same.  Parts of book 3 were already introduced in Season 2, probably because book 3 is so action packed.  The battle of Blackwater more than makes up for other slights.  It was brilliantly done, and even more spectacular than what I had imagined reading it.  Apart from more completely unnecessary nude scenes, I am very happy with Season 2.

The Wildfire explosion at the battle of Blackwater

Filming of Season 3 will commence towards the end of the year, and Season 3 will premiere on 7 April 2013.

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