Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review for The Princess by Lori Wick

          In the Land of Pendaran, Shelby Parker lives a humble but good life. Her special qualities are eventually noticed by the king and queen of the House of Markham, who seek a new wife for their widowed son, Prince Nikolai.
To uphold the tradition of their country, Shelby and Nikolai agree to an arranged marriage. But while Nikolai is a perfect gentleman in public, he remains distant at home, leaving Shelby to wonder what is in his heart. Will the prince ever love her as he did his first wife? Can the faith they share overcome the barriers between them? (Product Description from          
        I was so excited to read a book about a woman named Shelby!  For some reason, I resented the fact that Shelby had red hair. I just don’t like red hair (no offense to all those red-heads out there). And Nick. *sigh* With a few adjustments, he could easily be my dream man. J    But enough about the characters. The plot was slow getting started, and I must admit, I got pretty bored with the book at some points (I had to get used to Mrs. Wick’s writing style). It got much more exciting when I reached about page 70 or so.  One thing I must mention real quick: it’s so weird for me to read old books. By old I mean books that were written around the time I was born. When people still thought pantsuits were attractive. It’s like I was shot back in time. For some reason, it isn’t weird like that when I read historical fiction (which, technically, books from the 1900’s ARE historical, right?J). Alright, that was my rabbit trail for the day.  
            I’ll start with the positives: I really like the idea of the book- an arranged marriage. I loved the love that Shelby and her family shared. They were all such a sweet and innocent bunch- it seemed unrealistic. I loved when Nick finally told Shelby he loved her, and I also loved how eager they were to see each other in the hospital. And that’s it. There wasn’t much I really loved about this book- it was just so-so. Here are the negatives: The cover. I hated it. It didn’t have anything to do with the book, and it seemed old-fashioned and a little blurry. Also, Shelby and Nick seemed like Barbie and Ken. I suppose they did have a few flaws, but most of the time I felt like they were perfect little individuals. Shelby was so caring, compassionate, and innocent, and Nick was so manly and regal. It was unrealistic how Nick could tell when Shelby was thinking or hurt. Find me a male who is that female-ish, and I’ll give you a billion dollars. J Mrs. Wick made him out to be the perfect man, and even I know that there is no such thing. One thing I found kind of annoying was Shelby’s constant blushing. Every time Nick spoke to her, her face matched the color of her hair. It was incessant and obnoxious. If she was really that shy, she wouldn’t have been able to talk to Nick at all.
            This book had a TON of tension in it. Nick and Shelby don’t even know each other till their wedding, so you can imagine their trials getting to know each other.  They pretty much avoided each other for the first 6 months, and after that, they still had rough times. The Princess is definitely an adult book, and I don’t suggest that younger teens (13-15) read it (only adults and mature teens who can handle the tension between Shelby and Nick). There’s nothing really horrible in it, but I know that even my mom can’t handle reading a book with a lot of tension before bed. It’s just up to you and what you can handle.
 Quick Content Review:
Profanity- None
Violence- Minor (Shelby and Nick are involved in a car accident; Shelby loses a lot of blood and her unborn child dies.)
Sexual- Mild (Shelby and Nick share intimacy before they fall in love because they want children, but not for several months after their wedding. Nothing is described, only insinuated.)


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

I was immediately interested when I heard about this book, one, because I love historical fiction of any and every kind, two, this book takes place not too far from home, in Ashville, NC, and three, it’s by Deeanne Gist, so I knew I would enjoy it. Guess what? I did.
A Maid to Match follows Tillie Reese, who works as a maid at Biltmore Estate. When Mrs. Vanderbilt becomes in need of a personal maid, Tillie is picked as a runner up. She must meet the demands and do whatever it takes for her to win the position-with many siblings at home, the money is running low. Mack is a rough, unsophisticated mountain man that comes to Biltmore to work as a footman. His sister is in an orphanage run by a cruel, abusive beast, and her safety depend on Mack’s submission and success with his job at Biltmore. Both Tillie and Mack have much to concentrate on, but their growing attraction seems to continuously get in the way. Hands at Biltmore are forbidden to court or even romance each other, so Tillie decides that her job is more important than her love for Mack. She fights it hard, but Mack only encourages her. I was engrossed with this steamy romance, and loved every page of it. I loved the plot, and how adamantly Mack pursued Tillie. Forbidden romance is always the best kind! And of course the ending was magnificent. A Maid to Match has definitely become one of my all-time favorites. There is so much more I could gush about this book but let’s leave it at this: I found nothing in this book to be the least bit disagreeable, and highly suggest you try it. I’m positive you’ll love it as much as I do!
Quick Content Review:
Profanity: None
Violence: Minor (A girl is found murdered, hanging by a rope from the ceiling.)
Sexual: Mild (Mack and Tillie kiss passionately behind a barn during a group gathering, but it’s very chaste and done without any ulterior motives. They get into bed together on their wedding night, but the chapter ends there and nothing is described.)
Reply from the author:

Dear Shelby,

Thanks so very much for the lovely blog post and for writing to me.  I appreciate all your encouragement.  It means so much.  

I'm glad you enjoyed Maid to Match.  Be sure to watch for my upcoming release, Love on the Line. It's due to hit the shelves in October and is available for advance purchase from booksellers online now. My eNewsletter will keep you up-to-date about it and any new events that come down the pike.  After having such a blast with my readers at the Getaway With Dee last year, I've decided I much prefer "destination" type events rather than book tours. We just have so much more time to hang out and have fun. So, for 2011, I have two events planned.  

The first one is a cruise in June with the Pulpwood Queens - the largest meeting and discussing Book Club in the world.  Several other authors and I are cruising to CocoCay and the Bahamas and we'd love for you to join us!  

The second event is the RomCon conference in Denver this August.  This one-of-a-kind conference is especially for readers of romance to mix and mingle with their favorite authors.  All of the romance genres are represented, not just inspirational, and it is a huge event.  This year, I'll be putting on a Victorian fashion show featuring other historical authors at the conference.  I'd love to see you there 

Details for both events are at

Thanks again for visiting my website.  The next time you're there, be sure to click on Dee's Circle of Friends. This is a special area in my website with giveaways, video clips, exclusive excerpts from upcoming books, games and a very active chat room.  And if you're on Facebook, you can find me at  I'd love for you to join me and my circle of friends.

Thanks for writing, and I look forward to seeing you in our eCommunity!


Book review for The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
There are three types of books. The first type is boring, dry, and can sometimes be painful, depending on the writing style. Usually people don’t put themselves through the torture of reading these kinds of books. The second type is just so-so, mundane, and will only interest those who either have a deep love for books or are mundane themselves. J Then there are books that sweep you into the intricately woven plot, make you feel like a part of the story, and force you to feel sympathy or pity for the broken heroine. The characters pull you into the story, into their world, and bewitch you into never leaving. You must, of course, but you feel like you’re dying until you return. The Girl in the Gatehouse, a historical fiction written by Julie Klassen, is undoubtedly one of those books. 
            Mariah Aubrey is sent away to live in the gatehouse on her aunt’s large estate for something she did- something scandalous. She is ripped from the luxury she is so fond of, and must support herself and her companion by writing novels-under a false name, of course. At the same time, Matthew Bryant, a dashing navy captain, rents the estate with the intent of impressing a certain young lady who has rejected him. Matthew and Mariah are attracted to one another, but Mariah’s secrets and Matthew’s pursuit of another woman get in the way of love.
            I’ve read all of Julie Klassen’s novels, and enjoyed them all, so I know this one was going to be enthralling. But I must say, this is her best work yet!  I love the way she weaves the story and adds more and more to the plot until you think she can’t add any more. I also love how she creates her characters. Sometimes I read book and the characters seem all the same, so ordinary and boring. But Julie makes each of her characters unique and interesting in their own way. Mariah is probably my favorite character. She’s ashamed of her past, and wants to break free of the guilt but doesn’t seem to know how. She is constantly questioning her judgment, because she trusted a man once and he took advantage of that trust. I think she’s my favorite because she loves to write. I had that in common with her. I really felt for her when she was ridiculed by Matthew’s “friends.” I wanted so badly to jump into the story and lend her my shoulder to cry on. I wanted to let her know that life would go on, that this wasn’t the end of the world. But Julie didn’t assign that part to me; she gave that job to Matthew. J Matthew was very cute…yes, cute. His pursuit of Isabelle was so boyish it was funny. I ached when he talked to Mariah about being rejected by his father. I don’t know what it feels like to try to prove myself to a parent, but I got a taste of it as I read.
            Lastly, the cover. Is. Amazing. The lush green grass, with the cold stone gatehouse in the background, and the yellow and lavender of Mariah’s dress is really eye-catching. Not that the cover of a book really matter. Not that I judge books by their covers, or anything. Ahem. J I could go on and on about what an awesome read this is and such, but I’ll just leave it at this: The Girl in the Gatehouse is now on my “favorites” list (which is quite long, by the way) and I suggest you go pick up a copy if you haven’t so that you may experience the joy and emotion of reading a truly well-written book.
Quick Contents Review:
Profanity- None (maybe one use of the British word “bloody”)
Violence- None
Sexual- Minor (Mariah writes about her fall- nothing graphic but only implications. Mariah and Matthew kiss a couple times. One of the sisters, Amy, was forced to be a prostitute when she was younger.) 
 Reply from the author:

Hi Shelby,
Wow. What a great review. I can see that you are a gifted writer already. Will you be posting your review anywhere online for others to enjoy? It was such a pleasure to read and I'm delighted to know how much you liked the new book.
As far as your other questions: Yes, I grew frustrated at times. I remember being angry with myself at 25 for not having written "The great American novel" yet. :) But in hindsight, I'm not sure anyone would have wanted to read what I might have written back then. I believe God's timing is perfect and I'm so glad to be living out my dream of being a writer now in my forties--even though, like you, it is something I wanted from a young age. 
You're 16, Shelby, and you already sound wiser than I was at your age. :) Keep reading all the good books you can. Write all you can. Learn all you can. But trust God for the timing. You'll get there! 
Julie Klassen

Book Review for Life in the Shadow of the Swastika by Frieda E. Roos-Van Hessen

A couple months ago, my grandmother, my mom and I went to our church to hear Miss Frieda speak. She is one remarkable woman! At age 92, she still travels around the US testifying about how God helped her escape from the Nazis- not once, not twice, but nine times. I picked up her book, Life in the Shadow of the Swastika, when I went to hear her speak.
            Before the war, Frieda was a world famous opera singer. She was nominated as one of the top eight best singers in the world. She had a big, loving family that shared the gift of music, and a handsome young Gentile boyfriend (to her parent’s abhorrence). The only problem was that she was Jewish. Hence, her successful career came to a tragic end when the war began. So did her relationship with her boyfriend, Kees. He, like many others, allowed himself to be brainwashed by Hitler’s message of fascism. Circumstances only turned even sourer for Frieda after that. Her family was scattered into hiding, and all of them (except for her brother Bernard) were eventually executed or died in concentration camps. But by the grace of God, Frieda escaped from the clutches of the Nazis.
            One thing that I found fascinating about Frieda’s story was when she was on the road home from Hilversum, and she fell and broke several ribs. A man came up, helped her up, and calmed her (she was still very shaken from her encounter with the Gestapo). Frieda referred to him as a “good Samaritan,” but I believe that God had sent an angel to her rescue. He is so good- His timing is amazing!
            Life in the Shadow of the Swastika is a captivating story of hope, courage, and forgiveness, and I truly enjoyed it. It’s a refreshing change from books like The Diary of Anne Frank, because God did not allow Frieda to be handed over to the Germans but survive. She did not know Him at the time, but still felt Him working in her life. Later, she came to a saving knowledge of Him and to this day, gives Him praise for her survival. I hope and pray that many souls will be touched by her story for many years to come.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book review for I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris

I’ve been meaning to read this book for MONTHS now, but just hadn’t gotten around to it until the other day. To be honest, I was kind of scared to read it at first. I mean, doesn’t the title intimidate you a little? It did me. I wasn’t (and still am not) too keen on the idea of “courting.” I imagined a guy dressed in a starched suit and tie coming over on Sunday evenings and sitting stiffly on the front porch together with the windows open, with my mom secretly eavesdropping on us to make sure we don’t touch each other or anything equally traumatic.  I was thinking this book was going to curse dating and sing the praises of courting, but I was wrong (surprise there! No, just kidding…J). Mr. Harris actually stated in the introduction that that was not what he was going to do. He even went so far as to state that 1) he didn’t think that dating was sinful and 2) rejecting typical dating doesn’t mean that you’ll never spend time alone with a guy/girl. He also said that this book wasn’t about dating. WHAT? I know, that’s what I said too. No, it’s about what God wants. Dating is not about us, it’s about God’s plan for our lives.
            This book was really good. Mr. Harris said it like it was, and didn’t overlook any aspect or detail that could possibly arise over the issue of dating. The later part of the book even brought up the subjects of marriage and how to find God’s perfect match for you. It also said that even though God’s plan for most people is marriage, sometimes His will for you is to remain single so that you can do other wonderful things for the Kingdom of God. I won’t lie; this freaked me out. I anticipate the day I get married, and am extremely excited about falling in love and all the romance that comes with finding “the one.” I look forward to having lots of children (six, to be exactJ) and being a loving parent, wife, and homemaker. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that God’s plan could be for me to remain single. On the other hand, He knows what’s best for me (despite the song in Tangled that states that “mother knows best”). But I digress.

            One thing I loved about Mr. Harris’ book was the way he encouraged us to treasure our singleness. He made it seem like an achievement! In today’s society, singleness is DEFINITELY not treasured. Another thing I really liked was Mr. Harris’ account of his dream of the room full of files. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t read this book, but I’ll just say I found it very fascinating and eye-opening. One thing that really spoke to me was the part about lust, infatuation, and self-pity. Also, this book opened my eyes to the major sacrifices that must be made for the sake of marriage. I seriously didn’t know how important and fragile that kind of relationship can be, and how badly it can be damaged without proper care. The thing that I will probably remember most about this book is the “What Matters at Fifty?” game. It forced me to think about how I dress and the character qualities that I need to work on that will still be with me at fifty. Guys might find looks attractive now, but looks certainly don’t last forever-not even until fifty. Love, honesty, loyalty, patience, and the joy of Christ are some things that do last, though. J

Book review for In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon

I read this book for school, and I had never heard of it before. I had absolutely no idea what it was about. But surprisingly, it impacted me greatly and I believe its message will remain in my mind for a long time to come.
            In His Steps is a fictional story based off of a true event. It’s about a church in a town called Raymond, where the congregation is made up of wealthy, comfortable folks who don’t truly know the meaning of sacrifice. After a shaking experience with the death of a poor homeless man, Reverend Henry Maxwell calls out to his church members and challenges them to take a pledge. This pledge is to not do anything for a year without first asking, “What would Jesus do?” Several members take the pledge, but only the strongest make it through and find out what it really means to take up their cross and follow Him.
             This story was slow entertainment wise, and it didn’t have as much dialogue as I like, but entertainment was clearly not the purpose of this book. The sacrifices that the First Church members made in order to keep the pledge really astounded me. This wasn’t a trivial matter- all who kept the pledge for the full year made life changing decisions. It revealed to them what they did in their daily life that wasn’t in accordance with Christ’s teachings. Sometimes it was the smallest things, but they made all the difference. Take Rachel, instance. She gave up a singing career that guaranteed success, fame, and wealth, all because she believed that Jesus won’t have used a talent like hers for entertaining the rich [SPOILER!]. Because of this decision, her beautiful voice was used to bring many in the Rectangle to the Lord.
            One character’s story that really spoke to me personally was Jasper’s. He was a famed author who took the pledge. He tended to write not what was upright and good but what society wanted to read. This guaranteed his success. But he realized afterward that Jesus won’t write the things he wrote simply for the money. Sadly, he ignored this conviction, abandoned the pledge, and continued on his destructive path. This spoke to me because I have a dream to be an author someday, Lord willing. But I must remember that no matter how many people read my books, I will really only have an audience of one, Jesus. He is the only one I should strive to please, no society and what they desire to read.
            In His Steps really influenced the way I think about following Christ. Now, sometimes before I do something, the thought will pop into my head, “What would Jesus do?” I’m sure I’ve avoided some sticky situations because of this! I still have much learning to do, though. I’m not sure I could walk so closely alongside Christ as Rachel and the others did. I’m so glad I read this book, and although it can easily make you squirm, I suggest you read it too. J
BTW- like the picture? I think I’m going to start adding a picture of the covers of the books I review, so ya’ll can have a mental image in mind when visiting a book store.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Facebook makes me laugh

After you get a Facebook, and as you "friend" more and more people you know, you'll discover that there are several different types of people and personalities on Facebook. Here are a few that I can help but find amusing:
1) Those that almost always post negative statuses that leave you thinking, "I didn't know that person was emo!"
2) Those that post consecutively. All. The. Time.
3) Those that post happy-happy-joy-joy!!! statuses and act like life is a piece of cake.
4) Those that only post the status of their love life.
5) Those that are constantly posting lyrics to Taylor Swift songs (aka the broken hearted)
6) Those that have a Facebook but never get on it and therefore, never post at all.
7)Those that post every moment of their entire life on Facebook for all the world to see. Like we care that you just fed the cat...
8) Those that post the most boringest (no, kids, that is not a word) statuses, like "Slow day. Just mowed the grass. Now I'm gonna sit in front of the TV for the next 5 hours."

Well, that about covers it all. I feel accomplished. It's not every day that I get to rag on the 5 million people who have a Facebook. ;)