Wednesday, May 29, 2013

REVIEW: KISSING THE MADE OF HONOR ~ ROBIN BIELMAN


Sela Sullivan is resolved to be the best maid of honor ever, even if it means tolerating the best man. Insufferable, too-handsome Luke Watters is not only the guy who humiliated her at a kissing booth in high school, but he also happens to be her best friend’s older brother and her older brother's best friend. Positive he’s the same arrogant jock, Sela vows to focus on her duties and steer clear of Luke.

As a world-renowned extreme-sports photographer, Luke is used to undertaking life-risking adventures. But risking his heart for the beautiful Sela Sullivan, who clearly still hates him for his rejection all those years ago? He didn’t see that coming. Sela inspires a passion he’s never known, and the more time they spend together, the more he craves her. But can he prove to the maid of honor that he’s become a man of honor?


Kissing the Maid of Honor by Robin Bielman follows the story of Sela Sullivan who had once carried a torch for her best friend's brother (who also happens to be her brother's best friend).  In Luke's senior year of High-School when Sela kissed him at a kissing booth, instead of snagging the boy of her dreams, her world comes crashing down when Luke's reaction not only humiliates her, but breaks her heart.  Luke soon graduates and leaves town, carving out for himself a successful career as a renowned photographer.

After nine long years his sister's wedding finally brings Luke back to town, and Sela unavoidably has to spend time with the man she has convinced herself she loathes.  Only, Luke doesn't seem to be the arrogant jerk she remembers anymore. Resolved to not get involved, Sela desperately tries to avoid Luke at all costs; impossible with all the pre-wedding events going on.  

Luke is captivated by the wonderful woman his little sister's best friend has become.  Sela is not only beautiful, she's sweet, kind and generous... and she still likes to push his buttons; but despite the obvious chemistry between them, Sela is determined to keep him at arm's length.  Could it be that she  is still hurting from his publicly rejecting her so very long ago?  Is it possible that the foolish action of a stunned, overwhelmed teenager can  now cost him a future with the woman who, despite both their reservations, so clearly holds his heart?

Luke and Sela are both interesting characters impossible not to like.  The author does a good job of portraying their vulnerability along with their strengths, and the reader is emotionally invested in them individually as well as a couple.  As is often the case with romance novels, Sela and Luke's relationship does get physical, but the author leaves it at the bedroom door, which I appreciated.  The interaction between Luke and Sela is always sweet and emotional, and an interesting cast of supporting characters colours the story nicely.   

Luke and Sela both struggle with certain doubts and insecurities.  There is more to them and their relationship than the superficial, which adds depth to what is largely a romance

I love romance and second chances, and Kissing The Maid of Honor has both in spades.  It's a sweet, light, enjoyable read perfect for hopeless romantics.





Product Information:
Title: Kissing The Maid of Honor
Author: Robin Bielman
Number of pages: 230
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Year: 2013
ISBN: 978-162266-0-889


Entangled Publishing has kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

REVIEW: VANISHED ~ IRENE HANNON


Reporter Moira Harrison is new on the job in St. Louis, but she’s no rookie to investigative reporting. She knows how to dig for answers and get results. But when she hits a pedestrian on a rainy night in a wooded area - only to have both the victim and the good Samaritan who stopped to assist disappear - she turns to P.I. Cal Burke, an ex-homicide detective, to help her sort out the puzzle. Cal is more than a little sceptical of her story, especially since the police have dismissed it. But as clues begin to surface, bringing them closer to answers, the danger mounts. Because someone doesn’t want this mystery solved - and will stop at nothing to protect a shocking secret that will destroy a life built on lies.


Vanished by Irene Hannon is the first book in the Private Justice series.  It follows investigative reporter, Moira Harrison, trying to solve a mystery of her own.  On a rainy night, Moira sees a lone figure on the road; unable to stop her car fast enough, Moira feels the impact of hitting the person with the terrified eyes.  When she crashes into a tree, Moira is relieved when a good Samaritan pulls open her car door to check on her.  Moira, however, soon loses consciousness, and when she comes to there is no sign of a victim or a good Samaritan.  Relaying her tale to the Police, it is clear to Moira that they don't believe her - there is no sign of anyone else, after all - and chalk it up to her concussion.  But Moira can't let it rest; the terrified eyes of her victim haunt her.  Desperate, Moira turns to Phoenix Inc - the most respected private investigators in town.  Together Moira and Cal Burke try to piece together the puzzle of that night, never dreaming just how far-reaching the consequences of their investigation could be. 

Vanished is a very enjoyable read by Irene Hannon, with a nice mixture of mystery and romance.  I have to say though, one thing I did not like about the book is the fact that the reader is made privy to the identity of the villain very early on - Personally I prefer when an author keeps me guessing.  The suspense of the novel isn't too strong - I never found myself fearing for Moira or Cal's safety - the more serious scenes just weren't intense enough for my liking.  As far as suspense goes, this book is on the lighter side.  Even so, the book was fun to read and the characters were compelling enough to hold my interest.  Moira and Cal's relationship was very accurately portrayed considering Cal's widower status combined with Moira's client status; it was a realistic progression of two people destined to be together.  

I am already thoroughly charmed by Cal's colleagues, Connor and Dev, and look forward to their stories being told in the upcoming Private Justice books.  Dev is next in Trapped, due to be released later this year.


Product Information:
Title: Vanished
Author: Irene Hannon
Pages: 314
Publisher: Revell
Year: 2013
ISBN: 9780800721237

Monday, May 20, 2013

REVIEW: OPAL ~ JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT


No one is like Daemon Black.  When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well… There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.  But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different… And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger… and they know it.


Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the third book in the Lux series.  The story picks up approximately one week after the conclusion of Onyx.  

Dawson is back, but he's not the same.  Feeling the pressure from the ones he left behind, Dawson finds himself drawn to Katy - the only person who doesn't expect him to be the old Dawson.  As the two form a friendship, Katy seems to be the one bridging the gap between Dawson and Daemon.  But being reunited with his family isn't enough - not when the enemy still has Beth. When Dawson repeatedly endangers himself in attempts to track down Beth, Katy does the only thing she knows will keep Dawson from constantly running away - she strikes a deal; if he promises to stop going off on his own, Katy will help him find and rescue Beth, as long as they meticulously plan the rescue mission to ensure that nothing goes wrong and everybody makes it home safe.  But even Katy can't imagine just how terribly everything will go wrong.

The Lux series gets even more interesting in Opal.  It's nice to finally have Katy and Daemon not fighting their feelings for each other anymore, and their relationship really is quite beautiful.  The chemistry between Katy and Daemon is very intense, but sweet.  

Following the tragedy of Onyx, Katy and Dee are no longer friends, and it is quite hurtful to see Dee growing closer with Ash, rebuffing Katy's every attempt to reconcile.  Ash is ever the thorn in Katy's side, as well as the reader's, and old enemies surprisingly make comebacks to complicate matters even further.

As opposed to the other books in the series which ended quite satisfactorily, Opal ends on a devastating, heartbreaking cliffhanger.  I am glad that I only read the book now, and have only three months to wait for the next instalment - though three months seems a terribly long time.  

The next book in the series, Origin, is to be released in August 2013, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.


Product information:
Title: Opal (Lux Series #3)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Pages: 382
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Year: 2012 
ISBN: 1620610094

Related posts:


Friday, May 17, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TYNDALE BLOG NETWORK REVIEW: I'M NO ANGEL ~ KYLIE BISUTTI


I quit being a VS model to become a Proverbs 31 wife – Kylie Bisutti



LEAVING FAME FOR FAITH

I knew I couldn’t continue to pursue a career as a supermodel – let alone a Victoria’s Secret model – and still live a life that was honouring to God.  The desire for personal fame and glory would always stand in direct opposition to the kind of humility and modesty God desired.  And they would forever stand in the way of my becoming the kind of God-honoring wife Mike deserved – the kind of woman I read about in Proverbs 31 - Kylie Bisutti

In December 2011, 21-year-old Victoria’s Secret model Kylie Bisutti stunned the fashion industry when she chose faith over fame and fortune and made the switch from supermodel to role model.

In I’m No Angel, Kylie shares her story - from her early years struggling to make it big in the cut-throat world of modeling, her “big break” winning the Victoria’s Secret Angel competition, and the disillusionment and spiritual warfare that followed, to the moment she realized that she could no longer reconcile her career with her Christian beliefs, surrendered her life to God, turned in her Angel wings, and dedicated her life to preaching a message of modesty and inner beauty.

Along the way, Kylie talks about her personal struggles with inadequacy, low self-esteem, and her near-constant quest for approval in a world where you can never be thin enough, pretty enough, or sexy enough. She helps readers understand that true beauty lies within and that real fulfillment comes from knowing, loving, and serving Christ.


I’m no Angel by Kylie Bisutti  is the story of a Victoria’s Secret Angel, the most glamorous of models, leaving the fashion industry and modeling world behind to honour her husband, and God, with her body.  Becoming a VS Angel shortly after marrying the man of her dreams, Kylie and Mike were catapulted into a world neither of them expected.  Kylie adequately phrases it as “By taking on the persona of an Angel, I had unwittingly signed a deal with the devil”.

Kylie treats the reader to a front row seat of her entire modeling career with all its ups and downs; starting out modeling at the local mall, following opportunities that took her abroad, signing with agencies in New York, and finally hitting the big time by becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel.  As to why she wrote this book, Kylie explains:

I believe God allowed me to walk through the fire and see the best and the worst the industry had to offer so I could come out on the other side stronger and wiser, with my eyes fully opened to the truth.  And now I believe He is calling me to share what I’ve learned, with the hope that other people won’t have to learn the hard way, as I did. - Kylie Bisutti
Kylie (second row, third from right) with some of the other VS Angels


In many ways, the entire [Victoria's Secret] brand exists to create an illusion of the perfect woman - one engineered to drive men toward lust and, at the same time, drive thousands of impressionable young women toward frustration, self-hatred and despair as they try in vain to achieve an impossible ideal - Kylie Bisutti 

We follow Kylie’s harrowing experiences, including being exposed to the dangers of sex-trafficking and prostitution, the drug abuse, eating disorders and extreme surgeries some models subject themselves to in order to be skinny, and the disturbing reality that a model wanting to be a part of the fashion industry needed at least one topless photo in her portfolio: "What does posing nude have to do with fashion? I wondered.  And yet the models with the R-rated comp cards seemed to be the ones getting the jobs."
 
Then there are the horrific elements that came too close to home in Kylie’s case; verbal abuse - being called a fat pig and a cow by her agent (for the "crime" of being a size 2!), physical abuse - what is to my mind assault and a near-rape by a seedy photographer exploiting a young girl new to the business, and the infidelity, the lies, the deception, the betrayal, and the pornography that seems to be par for the course in the industry.  Kylie elaborates on the excessive and often painful beauty treatments used to get models runway-ready, and even her own surreal experience of being Photoshopped to have a  significantly smaller waist, and a bust size three times her normal one!  The reader also gets a glimpse of what the lifestyle meant for her marriage and how it affected her husband.  We don't always think how hard it must be for a man to watch his wife strut her stuff in underwear, millions of other men getting to see her that way; not to mention the comments from his friends!

Kylie and her husband, Mike

Despite being happily married and very much in love with her husband, Kylie was encouraged to refrain from wearing her wedding ring in order to keep the fantasy of the VS brand alive.  She was also approached by at least one celebrity through VS, who thought Kylie was his type and he wanted to “get together” – even though the fact that Kylie is married was no secret.  By all accounts neither the celebrity nor the VS exec had a problem with propositioning a married woman.  Shocking! Kylie was expected to play down her marriage, and to be a flirty, seemingly available VS model.


Angels are put on the runway with one intention: to seduce every man in eyeshot.  It would be years before the Lord would awaken me to the twisted irony in that: Angels, depicted in the Bible to be God’s messengers, being portrayed as sex symbols. - Kylie Bisutti

I wouldn't say that I'm No Angel is an exposé on the dark side of the industry; for me it's more of a testimony - in writing this book Kylie doesn’t badmouth anyone or anything, she simply tells her story.  This book is an excellent read for all women in general, and I would especially recommend it to girls considering entering the world of modeling, as well as their parents. 

More than focusing on the industry as such, Kylie is focusing on being a woman of worth – the importance of being a Proverbs 31 woman strongly comes across, and the message of inner beauty far outshines the focus on the glamorous outer beauty.  It was a pleasure following Kylie’s journey, and her spiritual growth is a joy to experience. 

I'm No Angel contains the most accurate depiction of the modeling industry nowadays, that I've ever come across.  Kylie concurs, at some point  modeling "is not about modeling clothes anymore".

I’d known for years that a big part of the industry was selling sex – especially when it came to lingerie.  But until I heard him say the words, “That’s what we’re paying you for,” it had never really hit home before.  That’s when it finally hit me.  I was being paid to tease, tempt and tantalize men.  And it wasn’t just my job.  As a Victoria’s Secret Angel I was expected to make this my whole identity.  

I simply couldn’t live the lifestyle the brand demanded and be a strong, faithful Christian wife.

Kylie doesn't hold back any of her mistakes in writing this book.  It must have been really hard for her to relay some of the things she went through, but the lessons she learned are valuable and can save many young girls from similar hurts.  More importantly, Kylie has let go of her past thanks to Christ's forgiveness.  Kylie now lives a quiet life with Mike in Montana where she volunteers at her local church, and is working on a Christian fashion line that she describes as modest clothes for women of all shapes and sizes. 



...thanks to the Internet, there would always be dozens of images of me out there I wished didn’t exist.  While those images may never go away, I can assure you that the girl in them no longer exists.  As the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5: 17, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun! - Kylie Bisutti



Product Information:
Title: I’m No Angel
Author: Kylie Bisutti
Number of pages: 304
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Year: 2013
ISBN-10: 1414383096
ISBN-13: 978-1414383095


Tyndale House Publishers has kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest 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.




Thursday, May 2, 2013

REVIEW: CRITICAL CARE ~ CANDACE CALVERT

After her brother dies in her trauma room, nurse Claire Avery can no longer face the ER. Broken-hearted and unsure of her abilities in the ER, Claire leaves the hospital, moves into her brother's home, adopts his gnarly cat, and embarks on a new career in nursing education, at a new hospital.  Claire's plan to build a new life, and her vow to never again set foot in an ER, falls apart when she is called to offer stress counseling for medical staff after a heart-breaking day care center explosion.  Unforeseen circumstances force her back to the ER where  Claire immediately clashes with Logan Caldwell, the hard-as-nails doctor who resents her presence and belittles her new career, believing touchy-feely counseling is a waste of time - he has the failed marriage to prove it.  Logan demands his staff be as tough as he is... yet he finds himself drawn to this gentle nurse educator who just might teach him the true meaning of healing. 



Critical Care by Candace Calvert is the first book in the Mercy Hospital series.  I only discovered Calvert last year, but am eagerly digging into her earlier works.  I really enjoy Calvert's medical writing.  It is very obvious she used to work in hospitals herself, as her work has a level of authenticity which adds immensely to the overall feel of the story. The overall impression you get while reading, is that it may very well be based on reality - a great feat for any author.  Not once in any of the books I've read have I found myself thinking "this is unrealistic", "this is far-fetched" or "this is just too good to be true".  Having a story so grounded in reality enhances the reading experience, placing the reader in the middle of the hospital.

The characters Claire and Logan are wonderfully real, flawed, hurting characters easy to fall in love with.  I was rooting for both of them to find healing in the Lord and in each other the whole way through.  The supporting characters are charming and add to the story instead of distracting from it.  Calvert unfailingly manages to make the reader care about every character - the sign of a truly gifted author. 

Claire's struggle to heal from the loss of her brother and her subsequent self-doubt, and Logan's cynicism following his failed marriage are very real driving forces in the character development.  As they find comfort in each other Claire finally has someone she can trust with her secrets, and Logan finally has someone who just might soften his hardened heart.  The question is, can they find a way to let go of the past in order to embrace the future?  Can they get out of their own way and learn to trust in God's plan for their lives instead of their own?

Critical Care by Candace Calvert is a very enjoyable read I finished in just two days.  I highly recommend any work by Calvert; she's an author who just won't let you down!



Product Information:
Title: Critical Care
Author: Candace Calvert
Number of pages: 304
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Year: 2009

Related posts:
Review: Rescue Team ~ Candace Calvert
Review: Trauma Plan ~ Candace Calvert

Follow by Email

Followers

Twitter

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...