Thursday, November 29, 2012


Title: Safe Haven
Author: Nicholas sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (June 26, 2012)
Pages: 432

I’ve only read a few NICHOLAS SPARKS books, and each one was triggered by a movie. Not the typical way I pick out a book to read. The first was A WALK TO REMEMBER. Being one of my all time favorite movies, I just had to read the book to see how it was written. Unfortunately I was disappointed. Not that it wasn’t written well, or a good story, just too different from then the movie.

The next book by MR. SPARKS I read was, DEAR JOHN. I saw the movie trailer, and knew I had to see it. I made the mistake of rushing out to get the book to read beforehand, finishing it the day before I went to see the movie. Once again I was disappointed. They had changed something, in my eyes, something major. I couldn’t get past that. The movie also lacked the emotion the book did (what a surprise). The book was amazing. The movie okay. Perhaps I saw the movie too close to having read the book.

I have THE NOTEBOOK, but have yet to read it. Loved the movie. Have THE LAST SONG, have yet to read it. Loved the movie. I guess you might say I’m a little hesitant to read AND watch something by NICHOLAS SPARKS. If I don’t read a book before watching a movie, the chances of me reading it afterwards is slim. Yet each time I see a great movie like one of MR. SPARKS, I yearn to read the book.

As soon as I saw the trailer for SAFE HAVEN, I knew I’d have to see it. Once again I wrestled with the idea of reading the book first. The writer in me wants to read how a great movie is played out in words. So I did it. I purchased the book and read it. And loved it!

Katie Feldman slips into a small town in North Carolina, hoping to move in unnoticed. All she wants is to live out the rest of her life in peace. Meeting a man is the last thing she has on her mind. She’d doing just fine on her own, and that’s the way she prefers it.

Alex Wheatley is kind hearted and genuine. He’s also a widow and father of two young children. When Katie steps into his quaint family store, he’s immediately intrigued. Not only is she beautiful, she seemed to have a secret. One she isn’t about to let Alex in on.

SAVE HAVEN is definitely going on my list of favorite books. MR. SPARKS is an amazing story teller. I realize number one bestselling authors can get away with just about anything, but as an aspiring fiction author; it kind of annoyed me that he didn’t keep his point-of-views straight. One sentence was one character, and the next another. More than a handful of times I had to go back and reread it to figure out whose point-of-view it was. To the average reader this may not be an issue, but to a writer that has been taught to not head hop/switch POV without indicating doing so with a break, it’s distracting. I have to wonder why such a brilliant storyteller would do so. I admit there are a few times in many story that it might be helpful, but on the whole, it’s not good to do so.

Other then the head hopping, SAFE HAVE is an amazing story. Not a lull in the book, though I could have done without the overly descriptive details at times. I loved both characters, Katie and Alex. I was both surprised and pleased when the story shifted to Katie’s past. The characters were three-dimensional, coming to life off the pages. After seeing the movie trailer, I could only picture the cast from the movie, which wasn’t a bad thing. They fit the profile perfectly … minus their hair color. I really liked how the abusive relationship was played out. It painted a realistic picture of what too many women go through. I have to say, I did feel sorry for Katie’s husband at one point, wondering what happened in his life that caused him to do what he did.

SAVE HAVEN is a fast paced, entraining read that will tug at your heart, and cause your heart to race with a few twists and surprises.

Next on my list from NICHOLAS SPARKS … THE LUCKY ONE. Now on DVD, I’m still deciding whether to read the book before seeing the movie. I guess time will tell.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Title: Heart to Heart
Author: Lurlene McDaniel
Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (March 13, 2012)
Pages: 224

I didn’t fine HEART TO HEART by LURLENE MCDANIEL, it found me. Due to receiving a gift card to a bookstore I typically don’t shop at - way too expense – I searched for a book to purchase. My oldest daughter introduced me to several YA books. Each one I’ve loved. So much so that I’ve thought of one day writing a YA book myself. So it wasn’t a surprise to find myself searching the YA books at the store.

After reading the back cover of HEART TO HEART, I decided to give it a try, though I’d never read any of MS. MCDANIEL’S Books before. I was immediately drawn into the story. The writing was wonderful, the characters real to life, and the storyline unique and well thought-out.

Kassey Messecheck and Elowyn Eden are close friends. Kassey thought she knew everything about her best friend, so after a fatal car crash, Kassey was surprised to discover Elowyn had checked the donor box on her driver’s license.

Arabeth ST. Clair has lived the latter years of her life lonely and isolated. But all of that was about to change when she receives a call that a donors heart is available. The last thing she expected was to meet the loved ones of the girl who donated her heart.

I highly recommend HEART TO HEART to kids and adults of all ages. There’s a great lesson to be learned from this wonderfully written story. It will tug at your heartstrings and bring you to tear.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Title: The Marriage Bargain
Author: Jennifer Probst
Publisher: Gallery Books; Original edition (August 17, 2012)
Pages: 212

I’m certainly not lacking in words when it comes to THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN by JENNIFER PROBST. First thing you need to know, I’m an aspiring Christian fiction writer. I primarily read Christian fiction. I’ve read my share of secular books, and have loved many of them, despite the lack of faith, and added content I could do without.

Alexa KcKenzie needs money … and fast.

Nicolas Ryan needs a wife …. and fast.

When Alexa agrees to marry Nick, she does so because she needs his money to save her family home. He asked her to marry because he’s in need of a wife to seal a business deal. What Nick doesn’t realize is Alexa never really stopped loving him, though she won’t admit to it.

THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN by JENNIFER PROBST is the first book I’ve read by this author, and most likely will be the last. But that’s not for lack of good writing or storytelling. Whenever I encounter a book that has me divided between loving it and having issues with it, I typically lay it out in pros and cons.

-Amazing writing.
-Wonderful, three-dimensional characters.
-Great plot.
-Great lines.
-Great tension between characters.

-Foul language – Though not what I call the worst of words, and not so much that I’d have to stop reading it.
-The sexual content – Yes, that was too much/over the top … though it could have been worse.
-The ending – After such an amazing story, and great writing, the author dropped the ball the last few chapters. It just sort of fizzed out, or maybe “rushed” would be a better word. Very disappointing after such a great read. If you kill the ending of a book, you pretty much kill the book. The reader is left with the bad taste, taking away from all the previous good you read.

I really loved the story, and thought the writing to be outstanding. Though there was foul language, it was tolerable. What I didn’t like was the sexual content. I don’t regret reading THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN, because it reiterated what I already knew, but needed to be reminded of …


The books I read sit around in plain sight so I can read them whenever I have the opportunity to sneak in a chapter or two. I don’t think much about it in regards to my kids because I generally read Christian fiction or basically “clean” secular books.

You can image my surprise when my sixteen-year-old pointed to THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN sitting on the kitchen table and said, “Wow, nice Mom,” in a sarcastic tone. I was both embarrassed and pleasantly surprised by her comment. Embarrassed because of her knowledge of what was inside such a cover, and surprised that she cared. That she HAD noticed what I read. Noticed enough to recognize that THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN was not the kind of book I typically read.

In the past my youngest daughter would pick up the current book I was reading and start to jokingly read it. I never flinched. That would not be the case if she had picked up this particular book and just happened upon a sensual scene between the two main characters.

It saddens me that I won’t be purchasing MS. PROBST books in the future, mainly due to the sexual content, when she is such a wonderful writer and storyteller. I guess there is always hope that one day she’ll decide to write a “clean” story.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Title: Against the Tide

Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Pages: 368

AGAINST THE TIDE by ELIZABETH CAMDEN is not the first book I’ve read by her, nor will it be the last. The first was THE ROSE OF WINSLOW STREET, which was amazing. I immediately placed MS. CAMDEN on my list of favorite authors. When I was offered a chance to read and review AGAINST THE TIDE, I didn’t hesitate. I was both honored and excited.

Lydia Pallas has carved out the perfect life for herself after surviving childhood struggles. A nice place to call home, a job she’s proud of, everything in neat order … or so she thinks.

Alexander Banebridges, known as Bane, has a mission in life. And right now that mission requires the help of a beautiful female translator working for the U.S. Navy, and a friend of his.

As Bane and Lydia embark on a mission propelled by Bane’s past, he becomes painfully aware that the very thing he’s trying to stamp out has its grip on the woman he’s falling for. But Lydia if off limits. Bain’s doesn’t deserve happiness, much less a woman to share his life with. Not after what he had done ….

What I love about MS. CAMDEN’S books, aside from the amazing writing, great pace, wonderful lines, well thought-out, three dimensional, likeable characters, is her plots are intriguing, educational, and meaningful. Her stories stir up emotions, and leave you feeling as though you were right there, living beside the characters, fighting their battles. After reading the last word, I was intrigued to learn more about what I just read, along with a new understanding of the situation that occurred in the past.

Bane and Lydia seeped into my heart. I loved both characters. How often are you left feeling as though you personally know the characters and are greatly sadden when you flip over the last page? I was excited to discover Bane’s is in CAMDEN’S first novel, THE LADY OF BOLTON HILL. I can’t wait to get a glimpse into Bane’s earlier life.

If you want a great read, filled with a touch of mystery, intrigue, suspense, light, yet powerful romance, with just the right amount of faith woven in so naturally you don’t realize it’s there, then you’re sure to love, AGAINST THE TIDE.