February 23, 2017

A Note Yet Unsung

Oh my. What a lovely book! A Note Yet Unsung is a beautiful blend of faith, love, and musical history. The rich storytelling and extraordinary characters not only entertained me, but taught me so much about women and music during the 1800s.

Why was she so anxious? She’d auditioned for a symphony a thousand times—in her dreams. ~Excerpt

I love the mix of fictional and historical characters, and the imagery throughout this story is magnificent. I have nothing negative to say about a single aspect of this story. Even the length, over 400 pages, which I’m not usually fond of, is the perfect span to tell this tale. As I neared the last page, as I often do with a spectacular book, I read slower, in an attempt to make the story last as long as possible.

I went through a myriad of emotions as I read. I was frustrated, soothed, surprised, saddened, angered, and inspired. What a gift Ms. Alexander has. I can’t wait to read the other books in the Belmont Mansion series.

She was here, home, with her mother likely only a room away, and all she could think about was leaving again. ~Excerpt

I was enamored by Tate Whitcomb, inspired by Rebekah Carrington, and touched by Demetrius, Delphia, Adelicia, and many others. (I won’t even mention the ones that made me angry or appalled. Grr…) I’ve entered a fresh world, the orchestral world of the 1800s, and I don’t want to leave it any time soon.

I can’t end this review without mentioning a lovely poem in this book, titled The Last Load. In the Author’s note at the end of the story, Ms. Alexander reveals her late father-in-law, Fred Alexander, wrote the poem. I love this man’s spirit, and the heart of Ms. Alexander for using it in her work. Lovely.

5 Stars

Cover: Love
Title: Love
Pages: 432
Series: A Belmont Mansion Novel Book 3
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0764206245
First Line (Chapter 1): Rebekah Carrington stood shivering across the street from her childhood home, satchel heavy in hand, cloak dusted with snow.
I received a complimentary copy via the publisher and Netgalley.

February 18, 2017

When God Made You

This is one of the most adorable children’s books I’ve ever read! Bold statement, but I stand behind it. It contains fun rhymes, brilliant illustrations, and most importantly, a gorgeous, powerful message.

Out of billions of faces from cultures, all races, people God made, from all different places. ~Excerpt

When God Made You is a lyrical blend of inspiration, empowerment, and wonder. Every child should read this book or have it read to them—over, and over, and over again. It shares how God made you unlike anyone else ever known, and He instilled a unique purpose and voice inside you. He created special talents, dreams, and life adventures for you. This book is incredibly encouraging. It rouses a sense of authority to boldly be who you are—a one of a kind gift to the world. Out of the billions of people on this earth, nobody else was made to be YOU!

A confident you, strong and brave too. You being you is God’s dream coming true. ~Excerpt

Matthew Paul Turner has written a potent, rhyming message, and David Catrow’s colorful, full-page illustrations are the perfect accompaniment. Young or old, this book yields a sense of wonderment. I wish I had this book when my children were little.

When God Made You helps build your child’s self-esteem, feeds their curiosity, and empowers them to be the matchless, exceptional person God made them to be.

I’m excited about this book. I can’t think of another children’s book I’d recommend more highly!

5 Stars

Cover: Love
Title: Love
Pages: 48
Target Group: 3-7 years
Publisher: Waterbrook
ISBN: 978-1601429186
First Lines: You, you, when God made YOU, God made you all shiny and new.
I was blessed to receive an advanced reader copy of from the publisher.

Preorder at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kOicvG
Preorder at Barnes & Noble: https://goo.gl/Zs8mjU
Preorder at ChristianBook: https://goo.gl/jvRM9k

February 16, 2017

All the Pretty Things (Audiobook Review)

“I don’t know how old I was the night the trailer burned down—or if the rumor was true that Daddy was the one who set it on fire…” Excerpt

I love books that take place in the south, and enjoyed the Appalachian setting in this memoir. The story shows how not having a strong male figure in the family can damage a young girl’s self-esteem and heighten the need for approval and acceptance. Even if you didn’t have a difficult childhood, it is easy to empathize and relate to Edie’s story.

I really had no idea what this story was going to be about prior to reading, and wasn’t aware it was a memoir, but in a way that made it all the more intriguing. My heart went out to young Edie and the things she overcame, such as an alcoholic parent, adult responsibilities as a child, etc. but I also admire her inner strength and desire to be something bigger than her upbringing.

The chapters are titled with the name of country songs (Ring of Fire, On the Road Again, Free Bird, etc.) So fitting, for country music and the South go together like biscuits and gravy. And the references to the classic television show Bonanza, their old Plymouth car, government cheese, record players, Mamaw’s dirt driveway, wooden fork and spoon wall decorations in the kitchen, etc. give this memoir such a wonderfully nostalgic feel. I remember these items. As a child growing up in the 70s, and living in rural Tennessee, I pictured the scenes so clearly.

Audio Narration: Lisa Larsen does a great job with narration. Her voice is pleasant and clear, with a slight southern accent—fitting for the story.

Audio Production Quality: The production quality is crisp and clear with no distracting static, noises, or music, etc.

Overall Opinion: Although All the Pretty Things isn’t the genre I normally read, I enjoyed learning of Edie’s life. There are heartbreaking parts that were difficult for me to read (and imagine) but none of the content is written unnecessarily—it all holds a purpose. With a theme of overcoming hardships and reaching for the stars, this story is both eye opening and inspiring. No matter the obstacle, there is always hope

4 Stars

Cover: Like
Title: Love
Publisher: christianaudio
Pages (printed length): 320
Narrator: Lisa Larsen
Audio Length: 9.9 hours
First Line (Introduction): On January 4, 2016, my forty-sixth birthday, I am standing on the precipice of Cherokee Bluff, staring down into the cold waters of the Tennessee River.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher.

February 15, 2017

An Uncommon Protector

Oh…I love it when a book surprises me. And I love it when a book plays through my head like a movie.

An Uncommon Protector is the first book I’ve read by Shelley Shepard Gray. It’s also one of the few stories I’ve read that take place during the Civil War era. What a unique and memorable read!

Tilting her chin down, she made sure to keep her pace steady. And tried not to think about how one man’s attention could rattle her so much. ~Excerpt

Laurel Tracey is a very kind and likeable character, and it's easy to sympathize with her situation. She is soft, charitable, and womanly, but has a streak of spunk and doggedness. Though the cover art is lovely, it depicts her as thin and dainty, while in the book she's described as curvy, soft, and perhaps even plump. I wish the cover depiction were more on point.

Thomas Baker is the main reason I rate this story with five stars. He is a fascinating, robust, manly, super-flawed man with a whole lot of heart. Swoon! I love how he surprises me, how he's good yet flawed, tough yet altruistic. I have a vivid picture of him in my mind… Have you ever seen the classic movie, Cool Hand Luke, starring a young Paul Newman? That is Thomas Baker. He is handsome, tough, charming, and gritty—allowing his mouth to get him in heaps of trouble. I won’t soon forget him.

Thomas had never been one for compassion, but even he couldn’t deny the appeal of a beautiful woman who was in need of a protector. ~Excerpt

As I mentioned before, this story surprised me. Not only in plot, but also how quickly it sucked me in, and the profound effect the characters had on me. There are some mildly violent scenes, but I consider this a clean, realistic, and fascinating read. Loved it!

5 Stars

Cover: Love
Title: Love
Pages: 320
Series: A Lone Star Hero’s Love Story
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 978-0310345428
First Lines (Chapter 1): Everyone said they were dangerous. Laurel assumed it must be true. But that didn’t stop her from taking another peek out her open sitting room window at one specific prisoner.
I received a complimentary copy.