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Book & Cover Review of "A Noble Groom" by Jody Hedlund

Front cover for 'A Noble Groom' 210471_99_bkc
Book Review
“A Noble Groom” is a new twist on the ‘mail order bride’ story type. Set in 1880 in Forestville, Michigan our heroine is a new widow who isn’t very eager to enter into what would be her second arranged marriage. Her first husband was abusive and a gambler. Annalisa is expecting their second child, and will likely lose her farm if she doesn’t get a new husband.
Annalisa’s farm is part of a  community consisting entirely of immigrants from Germany that are working together to make it through homesteading newly broken American ground together. As a community they decide to write to their families back in Germany to get her a husband. Annalisa is fearful that a new husband may be even worse than her last … but has long ago given up on her girlhood dreams of marrying for love.
While she waits for her prospective cousin/groom to arrive from the Old Country a young man named Carl arrives offering to help. He claims to have been a school teacher, and he knows very little about farming – but his charming and gentle ways give Annalisa new hope that all men aren’t like her former husband. But do her feelings lie deeper than that for this man? And is he really a former teacher? The story is worth the read to find out!
Cover Review
It’s obvious by the outfit Carl Richards arrives wearing that he is NOT a farmer. The community chooses to believe his lie that he is a schoolteacher, but … his clothes look a little more refined than even that profession. However, Carl has a letter from a well respected family member and they choose to take him into their community on faith. This cover design helps to accentuate just how much Carl doesn’t fit in when he arrives. This pampered son of a nobleman learns quickly what he must to survive (and hide) among this immigrant community.
The stormy sky in the background was a nice choice to reflect the tension and turmoil of this young man’s situation. The hint of barn and handmade plow next to the well-dressed and freshly shaven young man on this cover seem incongruent … because they ARE. Readers of historical romance will be drawn to the heroic stance and good looks of this prospective groom. Once again, the photo has taken center stage in this books design, but I believe it is successful and the title and author information are well-handled. I at first questioned the choice of bright green for the title text, but it has grown on me. It clashes a little with the other colors in the photo, but this helps it to stand out and get noticed.
*This book was provided by the publisher for review under no guarantee of a positive review.
Christian fiction, Christian historical, Christian romance, cover design, Historical, historical christian fiction, Historical Fiction, historical romance, Uncategorized

Book & Cover Review of "Waiting for Spring" by Amanda Cabot

Back Cover of Waiting for Spring by Amanda CabotFront Cover of Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot

Book Review

Amanda Cabot’s second book in the Westward Winds series, “Waiting for Spring”, can be read as a wonderfully engaging stand-alone novel. I have not read the first book of this series and felt neither lost, nor unsatisfied.

Both the male and female leads are well-developed and unique characters I was both rooting for, and frustrated with for much of the book. (Will these two ever figure out they are meant for each other?)

Amanda has also brilliantly developed a bad guy you slowly love to hate. He starts off seeming only slightly untrustworthy … and eventually his true nature leaves you squirming with displeasure — earnestly turning pages to learn how his bad intentions will affect the hero and heroine.

A wonderful story — based in the early years of Cheyenne, Wyoming. It definitely makes it onto my favorites list for the year.

Book Cover Review

May I say that the dress steals the show on this cover? But … since the story is about a dress maker it totally works! The vibrant blue color draws attention, and the style of the dress establishes it is a historical set in the late 19th century. This cover will appeal more to women, but since that is the same target as the story, it is a great match.

One small factoid that I thought was fun about this cover design, is the fact that the title grouping is actually partially hidden behind the cover model’s shoulder. The designer was obviously aware the model and the dress ‘steal the show’ — they are purposely letting it, by giving the title grouping a secondary status in this design (though they did add a touch of gloss to balance it a little).

* This book was provided by the publisher with no guarantee of a positive review. Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Waiting for Spring By Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot explores themes of love, courage and sacrifice in the second book of the Westward Winds series.   With an authentic backdrop of 1880s Wyoming, Cabot creates characters whose struggle to forge a life in the old West ultimately win your heart.

After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But when a notorious robber believes she knows the location of a long-lost treasure, she flees to Cheyenne and opens a dressmaker’s shop to lie low and make a living. When wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry enters the shop to visit her best customer Miriam, Charlotte feels drawn to him.

If Barrett is to be a senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming, he must make a sensible match, and Miriam has all the right connections. Yet he can’t shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.

Soon the past comes to call, and Barrett’s plans crumble around him. Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?

Amanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names and a popular speaker. The author of Paper Roses, Scattered Petals, Tomorrow’s Garden, and Summer of Promise, she is also a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the cofounder of its New Jersey chapter, a member of the ACFW, and an avid traveler. She lives in Wyoming.

Endorsements for Amanda Cabot and Waiting for Spring:

“One thing I know to expect when I open an Amanda Cabot novel is heart. She creates characters that tug at my heartstrings, storylines that make my heart smile, and a spiritual lesson that does my heart good. Her stories are like the first sweet scents of spring—pure pleasure.”—Kim Vogel Sawyer, bestselling author of My Heart Remembers

“From the first page I found myself rooting for the young widow, Charlotte, who’s trying to forge a life for herself in Cheyenne while also caring for a disabled son. My heart beat with worry as trouble from the past found her. And it pattered with hope as sweet Charlotte caught the eye of handsome Barrett. Amanda Cabot offers a delightful read, and as I turned the pages I was swept away with a story of love, courage, and sacrifice. Recommended!”—Tricia Goyer, bestselling author of 32 books, including Beyond Hope’s Valley

Christian fiction, Christian historical, cover design, historical christian fiction, Historical Fiction, historical romance

Book & Cover Review of "Betrayal" by Robin Lee Hatcher

Special thanks to Zondervan and author Robin Lee Hatcher for providing me with not only the second title, “Betrayal”, in her Where the Heart Lives series, but also book one too! The first book, “Belonging”, sucked me in so deeply that I think I read through both books within three nights’ time. (Yes, they are that good!)

And the even better news is that they provided me with a second copy of each to give out to a lucky reader!! Comment on this post for a chance to have both of these great books mailed to YOU. 🙂

9780310411857Book Review

In the first book of the ‘Where the Heart Lies’ series we are introduced to a set of three siblings who, upon the death of their mother and knowing their father is a rarely present drunkard, have been sent out on an orphan train to find new homes. Unfortunately, all three were placed in different families and towns along the route. The first book is about the middle child, the eldest daughter. This second book is about Hugh Brennan — who unfortunately didn’t get far enough away from the influence of their father. As the eldest, and only boy, Hugh was kept by the first available family needing a worker, and later was retrieved by their father. With his father drinking up most of his money and rarely a steady home to stay in, Hugh ends up in prison for a short term for something his father actually did. This story starts once he is released. Determined to better himself, he has become a drifter in search of reuniting with his lost sisters.

Along the way he happens upon a widow named Julia Grace. Julia’s late husband was so abusive she does not ever want to marry again. However, with her late husband’s brother doing all he can to take her late-husband’s ranch from her, she may have to. Having been a bit of a ‘street rat’ thanks to his father’s influence, Hugh is surprised when he finds ranch life appealing, and the widow too.

This book is a sweet romance, featuring two main characters with pasts they would both rather forget. I feel it will appeal to both men and women who enjoy American historicals from the late 19th century – though slightly more to women.

Book Cover Review

The romantic cover photo of a fashion-model-level handsome drifter/cowboy in a small town depot setting will definitely appeal to women more than men, but it is very well done. Since Hugh is actually a city boy instead of a farm-raised cowboy his clean cut looks and the whiteness of his shirt ‘might’ be explainable? This cover follows well the ‘look’ of the series set by the first cover, so that even though it features a young man instead of a woman, it is obviously part of the Where the Heart lives series. Robin Lee Hatcher’s name is prominently displayed in the same manner, the color scheme is within the same pallet, and the handling of the one word title is also in keeping with the style of the series. I do wonder why the designer chose to use all lower-case letters for the titles, but they have called it out enough that you aren’t left wondering if it is indeed the title or not. Well done! It will reach the right readers, and matches the tone and story well.

Book Description

It’s the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him.

Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she’s going to have to trust someone if she’s to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband’s half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?

The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher and the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series, Betrayal will take you to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two seekers learning to trust God’s love no matter the circumstances.

Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of over sixty-five books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin currently resides in Idaho.
For more information, visit www.robinleehatcher.com.
Write to Zondervan authors or their estates in care of Zondervan. Your mail will be forwarded as soon as possible, but please note that the author might not be able to respond personally. Email zauthor@zondervan.com or send postal mail to:
Robin Lee Hatcher
c/o Zondervan
ATTN: Author Care
5300 Patterson SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49530

 

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Book & Cover Review of "a Love Surrendered" by Julie Lessman

Book Cover for 'a Love Surrendered' by Julie Lessman

Book Review

A Love Surrendered is Book three in a series started in 2010 by Julie Lessman. It had been so long since I had read book one that I had forgotten I had read it until I was well into the book. (Though once I did figure that out I realized that the cover was designed similarly, and I had recognized the author’s name when asked to review it by the publisher.) The book tackles some very tough topics for a Christian novel to handle, the biggest being sensuality. I don’t consider myself a prude, but even I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of sensuality in this novel. Beyond the attraction felt and resisted by the unmarried hero and heroine, there are several married couples – most of whom are the parents or brothers and sisters of the hero and have been featured in the earlier two books – and all seem to be trying to get pregnant or use their sensuality to manipulate their spouse in some fashion at some point in the book. I get that sensuality was a major theme being tackled in the book, but with so many couples it was a little much even for me. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as suitable reading for teenagers.

However, the book is very well written and the characters are enjoyable. Additional insight is given to being a single person during the prohibition era.  I do feel you would want to read books one and two to get the best amount of enjoyment from the series. The number of characters was a little hard to keep track of since I hadn’t read book two and book one was read too long ago. If I’d read them back to back I feel it would have been easier to keep track of the many characters.

I would only recommend this book  to readers who aren’t overly sensitive to reading sensual situations. It will likely appeal more to female readers, though the issue is tackled from the male perspective in a few cases during the book.

Book Cover Review

They’ve done a great job at keeping the covers similar, but I will say the first book I read had a model on the cover with a bright blue dress on rather than this muted rose tone on the current cover. The blue color help to add some vibrancy to the cover and make it stand out on the shelf. The rose dress just it isn’t as eye-catching. I also have the same complaint about this cover as I had about the first one. Without reading the copy I have no idea that this is a historical novel. The textured brown backdrop, the clothing and the hair style really don’t give away what time period this novel is set in.

I didn’t mention it previously, but I also dislike that the title area is left of center and runs slightly off the page. This was done consistently on all three books, but I feel it would have been more balanced to center it on this particular design. I’m not sure the covers for this series are doing as good a job as they could have to draw in new readers for this author.

* Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Amish fiction, Christian fiction, cover design, Uncategorized

Book & Cover Review of "Still Life in Shadows" by Alice J. Wisler

Cover for book Still Life in Shadows

Book Review

Still life in Shadows is definitely a unique perspective on the Amish life. Among the many genres of Christian fiction that I read is Amish fiction. In most Amish fiction novels, their lifestyle is depicted as unyielding on the one extreme, but overall as an enjoyable simpler lifestyle. It is generalized frequently that the popularity of Amish fiction is due to readers using it as a form of escapism. Still Life in Shadows, however, shines a light on the fact that, just like every other lifestyle or religious choice available – there are people for whom an Amish lifestyle fits, and people for whom it does not. The main character, Gideon, has chosen to escape that lifestyle, and to help others escape from it. Additionally, the novel points out that anger and abuse can surface in even the most peaceful of societies – which is why Gideon made his choice to leave. The author also chose to cover the subtopics of autism and hoarding within the confines of this novel. All of these topics are handled with care and respect.

Unlike most Amish fiction novels I feel this one would appeal to both men and women. It isn’t an action novel, and there is a love story there, but it is handled in the male point of view and in a realistic manner (in other words, full of natural road blocks and confusion).

Book Cover Review

Even before I read the marketing copy I was intrigued by this cover. It is obvious by the choice of clothing on the main model that he is not Amish (or at least not anymore). And due to the grunge textures and choice to use black and white as the primary color scheme it has a rather dark and mysterious quality to the design. I also like the choice to use the bright red circle around the word ‘in’. As a potential reader it forced me to see that there were many potential directions to take the meaning of the title. (Or maybe that’s just me? LOL)

The one piece of the cover design I am not fond of is the checkerboard pattern above the black bar at the bottom of the cover. I think using a dusty/grungy speckled fade of some sort would have been more in keeping with the tone of both the rest of the cover design as well as with the book’s tone.

* This book was provided by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for review.

 

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingStill Life in ShadowsRiver North; New Edition edition (August 1, 2012)byAlice Wisler

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Alice was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties.  Her parents were Presbyterian career missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer’s store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers.  In her room, she created stories.  The desire to be a published famous author has never left her.  Well, two out of three isn’t bad. She’s the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House).

 

Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field.  She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines.  She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.

 

She has four children–Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth.  Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel’s House Publications in her son’s memory.  This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

It’s been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen.  Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic’s garage. He meets a host of interesting characters -the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her sister Mari. Known as the “Getaway Savior” he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America.

 

One day the phone rings. On the other end is his brother Moriah calling from Florida. Of course Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. But Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death and forces Gideon to return to the town of his youth, with his brother’s body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side. He must face not only the community he ran away from years ago but also his own web of bitterness. Will he be able to give his anger over to God and forgive his father?

 

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Still Life in Shadows, go HERE.