Archive for February 2014

A Review of 'The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn' by Lori Benton

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Suggested Age: 18+
Genre: Christian, Historical Fiction

This book is really cool because it’s set in Morganton, NC which is just five minutes up the road from where I live.

It was very interesting hearing about Indian settlements and political uprisings for an area in which I live.

Also, I had never heard of the lost State of Franklin so that was a very interesting thing for me to read up on after I finished the book.

Overall this was a pretty good story. I will admit that I thought some of the innuendos or sexual content was a bit out of place or unneeded in this story.

I’m not a prude, nor do I oppose situations of violence (in books) if it serves a purpose and brings a person closer to God. In this story though, I thought there were times when it was simply unneeded. The rape of the slave-girl and the near rape of a young girl both seemed unnecessary. It really had nothing to lend to the tale and therefore, I felt it was out of place. I also thought that Jesse’s exclamation that he’d prefer Tamsen having her clothes off was a bit much for this genre. It was just presented in a near crass manner. That’s simply my personal opinion.

I’d also like to point out that I have read a good many book with violent or sexual situations in them that I felt was appropriate for the genre, even Christian books that covered such material that didn’t rub me the wrong way so I don’t think that my opinion is because I’m being overly prudish. When it has a Christian label on it though, I feel it is my place to note when I think there is material that some may find offensive

Overall I thought the book was pretty good. I would read more by this author.

Tamsen Littlejohn defies her stepfather and flees into the wild with Jesse Bird. Her stepfather would see her married to Ambrose Kinkaid but she is certain that she can never condone his treatment (or his keeping) of slaves.

Read an excerpt on the Author's blog
It is after her stepfather murders her mother that she makes her escape with Jesse. The problem is that her stepfather is angry and he is trying to cover up his involvement in the murder of his wife. Thus, he pins the blame on Jesse and also alleges that he kidnapped her.

Jesse is a mountain man, raised by the Shawnee and then adopted by the Cherokee. He takes Tamsen into the wild, leading her back to his homestead where he thinks they will be safe.

Ambrose Kinkaid is hot on their heels and all the while, Tamsen is more determined than ever to never be found—not only because she fears for her life but also because she is falling in love with Jesse.

To further complicate things –parts of North Carolina has seceded and formed the State of Franklin. Surprisingly, this actually happened and it made me aware of a part of our history that I had never heard of.

The story wraps up with Tamsen and Jesse discovering their family history and of course seeing a resolution to their problems. I won’t share anything further as I don’t wish to ruin the story for those of you that haven’t yet read the book. I give it a solid three stars for the reasons I outlined above but would still suggest the book to folks who aren’t put off by those situations.
View all my reviews


Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God's transforming grace.

When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching 18th century history, Lori enjoys exploring the mountains with her husband – often scouring the brush for huckleberries, which overflow the freezer and find their way into her signature huckleberry lemon pound cake.

I received The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn as a complimentary gift in exchange for an honest review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. My comments and opinions are my own.

Review of 'Divergent' by Veronica Roth

Monday, February 24, 2014

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Suggested Age: 16+
mild language/violence

Genre: Dystopian

This book was “alright” I liked it well enough but I thought there were a lot of gaps in the story line.

What happened to the rest of the world? What’s the true point of the factions—how did it get to that point. These are questions that should have been addressed.

I felt there were times where the story relied too heavily on the "hot-factor" of Four and less on the story line.

This isn’t the worst book I’ve ever read but after hearing a spoiler of how it ends I think I’m ending with this one and saving myself the book angst.

This book follows Beatrice Prior as she learns that she is a Divergence, as she chooses a faction and her reinvention as the edgy dauntless Tris.

Being dauntless means that she must learn to have courage, how to face her fears and essentially, how to survive initiation if she wishes to avoid being factionless.

During her initiation she meets an interesting guy named Four. Why is he called Four? Well, that is for Tris to discover. I assure that his presence in the story is what makes this book worth reading. Tris is rather boring, to be honest. In my opinion, Four is the story and without him there’s no point in reading. I don’t say that because I’m some crazed fan-girl desiring after a book-boyfriend. I say that because I really think there wasn’t much of a story to tell without him.

Passing initiation is only half the problem. Shortly thereafter is when the real story begins to emerge and the factions are plunged into war. The first book pretty much ends at such point so I will leave off at this point and point out just a few note-worthy things

  • This book is YA genre but it is geared more towards the upper end of the YA bracket. There’s a bit more innuendos and violent situations are a bit more graphic in my opinion than something like The Hunger Games which I would say is fine for the younger age brackets of the YA genre.

  • Where is the rest of the world and why exactly are there factions. This wasn’t explained well enough. I want to know why only Chicago exists and how did it get to the point of having to have factions? Yes, I know the spiel about qualities and traits but what initiated this train of thought?

  • There seems to be an age discrepancy as the author states that Caleb is a few months into being 16 and Tris is turning 16. If they have the same parents, how are they only a “few” months a part. Pregnancy lasts 9 months typically so even if their mom became pregnant again right away, if he is 16 for a couple of months then how is Tris also turning 16 at the same time? I totally get the “irish twin” thing but she totally didn’t explain it well. Shoot, she might as well have just made them twins so it would be less confusing for everyone reading.

This book was an okay read and I liked it well enough. From what I hear about the ending, I don’t like this book well enough to continue the series.
View all my reviews


Veronica Roth is from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011) and INSURGENT (May 2012). The third and final book in The Divergent Trilogy, ALLEGIANT, will come out on October 22, 2013. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

A Bethany House Bloggers Review of 'Minding Molly' by Leslie Gould

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Minding Molly (The Courtships of Lancaster County, #3)Minding Molly by Leslie Gould

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Suggested Age:12+
Genre: Christian,Amish Fiction

I have loved every single book that I’ve read in the The Courtships of Lancaster County series so far!

I have to admit that this one was the one I have been looking forward to the most.

The books in this series are adaptations of Shakespeare plays into an Amish setting and this particular book is a retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream—which just happened to be my favorite Shakespeare play.

The cover is also the nicest out of the series so far, I think. The cover model is exactly how I pictured Molly. Fantastic book and I would definitely recommend it!

Molly Zook has lost her father and she is determined to keep her mother from losing their farm. She even considers a marriage of convenience that her mother is determined to arrange. That is, until she meets Leon…

Leon is everything Molly ever wanted. He’s kind and compassionate, good looking and creative. He’s also from Montana and Molly’s heart is torn because she doesn’t want to leave her mother and her sister.

To further complicate things, her friend Marvin has set his eyes on her but Molly doesn’t want to hurt her best friend, Hannah who has her eyes set on Marvin.

When the friends all take a camping trip, Molly’s bossy and take-charge attitude threatens to drive everyone away, including Leon. Will Molly learn to let go and let God be in charge or will her need to control everyone drive them away?

I identified so much with Molly. She has the best intentions and tries to keep things running smoothly by demanding that people do things her way. Her ability to get things done is a good thing but it is awful easy to also come off as bossy and as an elitist who sucks the fun out of everything. Knowing when to turn over control and let people do things their own way is something I also struggle with.

I enjoy reading a book where the characters have flaws and are realistic. I give Leslie Gould two thumbs up and a 5 out of 5 star rating for this book! I look forward to the next book in the installment. Expected publication for “Becoming Bea” is October 2014.
View all my reviews|Read an Excerpt


Courting CateAdoring AddieMinding Molly

Leslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 CBA bestseller, a 2012 Christy Award winner, The Amish Nanny, and The Amish Bride. She is also the author of numerous other novels, including Garden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006), and Scrap Everything. She holds and MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She and her husband and four children live in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more about Leslie at
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review of 'Sarai' by Jill Eileen Smith

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sarai (Wives of the Patriarchs, # 1)Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suggested Age: 17+
Genre: Christian,Historical Fiction
 Over the last few years I’ve really became interested in historical fiction—particularly biblical fiction.

It helps me visualize the world, the setting and the characters when I’m doing my Bible reading. It helps me look at the Bible differently by bringing to life the characters I’ve read about.

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author and I thought it was pretty good. I would definitely read more of her stories. I liked that she provided scriptures in sections of the story so I could cross reference the Bible.

Have you ever really considered what it would be like for women who couldn’t conceive many years ago? Sarai longs for a child but she is barren. She loves her husband and the thought of sharing him is more than she can bear but how else will she obtain a child?

This book follows Sarai through her many emotions as she longs for a child and the disappointment that she surely felt as she watched servants or friends bear children.

Sarai doesn’t have the faith that Abram has and in utter desperation she does the only thing she knows to do. She gives her handmaid to her husband. If Abram loved Sarai so much then how could he have ever agreed to such a thing? Well, in those days there weren’t fertility doctors. Rather than trusting God and his promise Sarai took matters into her own hands and set out to procure a child via a surrogate.

I thought the book was pretty good. It helped make Sarai real to me. She was a real woman with real fears, hopes and struggles. The book read pretty fast and was interesting enough to keep me turning the pages.
View all my reviews|Read an Excerpt


Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the Wives of the Patriarchs series featuring Sarai, Rebekah, and upcoming Rachel, (Releases 2-1-14) as well as, the bestselling author of Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, all part of The Wives of King David series published by Revell (Baker Publishing Group.)

Her writing has taken her from the Bible to Israel and she loves learning how women lived in Old Testament times. When she isn't writing she can be found hanging out with family and friends, reading, bike-riding, testing new restaurants with her husband, or snuggling one of two adorable kitties. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

The Bzz on Glade Plugins

Monday, February 17, 2014

Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil Customizables™

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Two is better than one

Begging for an outlet within view, beautifully designed Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil Customizables™ alternate between two scents daily — lasting up to 60 days when placed on the low setting. The noticeable fragrances – like Clean Linen® & Sunny Days®, Hawaiian Breeze® & Vanilla Passion Fruit, and Apple Cinnamon & Lavender Peach Blossom – are specially paired for your delight.

I was so excited to try this product. I love how it looks and to be honest? I love how it smells. I love how it alternates between scents. However, I’m having to give this a 1 out of 5 star for one reason—it made my daughter have an asthma attack. We were unaware that my daughter (age 3) has asthma and we have used scented candles previously without an incident. Something is very irritating in this product however. Shortly after plugging this in my daughter’s airways were closing up and I had to rush her to the doctor’s office where she was administered a breathing treatment.

She has never had reactions before so maybe it was just going to happen and it’s all a coincidence but I would advise that families with small children to use the lowest setting and keep it in a low traffic area until you can determine whether a child might be bothered.

I also noticed that the clean linen scent is extremely strong. I had the plug in on the lowest setting in the family room upstairs and could still smell it when I went downstairs to my bedroom. I wanted to love this product. It has an attractive packaging and it does smell good but I’m now a little afraid to use future glade products.

I would use with caution and if you notice no adverse reactions then you're good to go

I received this product free from Glade for being a BzzAgent! To find out more about this fantastic program and how you can get involved please visit I was not required to write a positive review. The views and opinions I have expressed are my own.

Booklook Review of 'Merlin's Blade' by Robert Treskillard

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Merlin's Blade (The Merlin Spiral, #1)Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suggested Age: 12+
Genre: Christian, YA, Fantasy

I have long been a fan of Arthurian legend and Christian novels are few and far between for this era.

I’ve read a few other books that claimed to be Christian but other than being clean stories there was no reason I could see for it to have been classified as Christian fiction. There was no mistake and this author did a great job of weaving Arthurian legend and Christianity into one tale.

Merlin is haunted by something—something evil. Once before it haunted his steps and it left him disfigured and mostly blind.

Merlin’s stepmother is the daughter of a druidow; the very man who leads a campaign to abolish Christianity and return Britain to the old ways and the old gods. In his possession is a stone which seems to hold a bewitching power over all who gaze upon it. Only Merlin seems immune to the power of the stone.

In this tale, Arthur is just a babe and already his life is in danger. Uther Pendragon is a follower of Christ and he opposes the return of the old ways and the sway that the druidow (and the stone) holds over the people. With his new sword which was forged by Merlin and his father, Uther wages war against the druidow.

With traitors in their midst it lays on Arthur’s shoulders to destroy the stone and protect the High King and his family. His father has newly returned to the faith of his youth and restored his relationship with Christ. He, along with a few other villagers who have not bowed their knee to the old religion stands with Merlin and together they devise a plan to free the captive priests and destroy the stone.

This book was so well researched and beautifully written. You can tell the author paid great attention to detail and also to lore. I look forward to book two, Merlin’s Shadow which I’m picking up just as soon as it arrives in the mail!
View all my reviews|Read an Excerpt


Robert Treskillard is a Celtic enthusiast who holds a B.A. in Biblical & Theological Studies from Bethel University, Minnesota. He has been crafting stories from his early youth, is a software developer, graphic artist, and sometime bladesmith. He and his wife have three children and are still homeschooling their youngest. They live in the country outside St. Louis, Missouri.

Learn more by visiting his website at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review of 'A Reluctant Queen' by Joan Wolf

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of EstherA Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther by Joan Wolf

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Suggested Age:17+
Genre: Christian, Historical Fiction

Wow! This book...

Where do I start? I guess I'll start with the cover. It is so gorgeous that it made me want to read the book.

The story—one of the best I've read so far about a bible character.

I couldn't put this book down. Of course I knew that Esther would be queen but I sat on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the king would respond to her.

I'm not one to use made up words but this time I have to because anything less than fantabulous can't be used to describe this book!!!

Of course most of us are familiar with Esther but have you ever wondered how she went from being a commoner to being the queen; She is so loved by the king that he offered her up to half of his kingdom!

Have you ever stopped to contemplate if Esther returned his love? Have you thought about the friends she may have made during her preparation time before she was presented to the king?

This book is of course a fictional take on the beloved tale but you will not be disappointed. I literally sat on the edge of my seat in anticipation of how it would all unfold.

If you love the story of Esther and you appreciate historical fiction then I strongly suggest this book.
View all my reviews|Read an Excerpt


Joan Wolf was born in New York City but has lived most of her adult life with her husband in Connecticut , where she raised two children and countless numbers of assorted animals. Joan is the author of numerous historical novels including The Road to Avalon which Publishers Weekly lauded as “historical fiction at its finest.”
For more about Joan and her other books, please visit

The Calling: A Litfuse Review

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Calling (Inn at Eagle Hill #2)The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Suggested Age: 12+
Genre: Christian,Amish Fiction

I really enjoy Suzanne Woods Fisher as an author. I also really enjoyed the first part of this series, The Letters. I was very excited for this book and while it wasn’t a disappointment I do feel that it wasn’t as good as book one.

I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and there were questions I wanted answered and I’m afraid I’ll forget those questions by the time book three comes out. Little things like if Jimmy got his horse back.

Overall the story was enjoyable and I very much liked the spinster sister’s role in the story. I thought they added a bit of humor and they made me smile.

Though I didn’t enjoy the book as much as book one I did still like it. Such is life; you’ll sometimes like one book better than another. It is still worth reading!

Bethany Schrock has a childhood secret and she’s determined to solve the mystery before she allows herself to settle down.
She can’t figure out why she feels so melancholy and she has a feeling that figuring out exactly where her mother is and why she abandoned her will answer her questions.

I had this really bad feeling and even though it’s a book my heart just sank when I started putting the pieces together on that situation. A good author evokes emotion in her readers and I certainly was worried about Bethany when I read about the anxiety that plagued her.

As if this dark secret wasn’t hounding her—Jake is still causing her quite a bit of grief and turmoil. I’m curious how all of that is going to wrap up. I have to say—I got chills when I read about Naomi’s perception of him!

Bethany is pretty likable and she’s spunky. Overall you’ll really be rooting for her and also for her to get with Jimmy. As I got to know her more I simply couldn’t imagine him with anyone else!

As always, I am impressed with the nuggets of wisdom and scriptures that Suzanne Woods Fisher weaves into her stories. You can tell that she knows her Bible verses! Overall I give this story a solid three stars and I will definitely be picking up the next installment!
View all my reviews|Read an Excerpt


The LettersThe Calling

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace.

She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.

For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your iPhone or iPad! Download the Free App!

I received this book free from the publisher through a fantastic program called Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts and opinions I have expressed are my own. To view other reviews and learn more about the blog tour for The Calling please visit the Litfuse group by clicking here