First Line Friday – 6.23.17

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Today I’m attending the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference which means I’ll not have much time to read. Whenever I am running short on reading time, I turn to either audiobooks or novellas. So today I’m featuring a collection of novellas I recently finished reading:  Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, & Gina Welborn.

 

Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands

I can’t say it’s the best novella collection I’ve read this year, but it filled the need and was certainly enjoyable. Plus I really liked exploring its unique premise. Here’s the first line from the first story:

Abigail Melton entered the kitchen to the sight of her mother slumped over the table, a telegram clutched in one hand.

Abigail’s Proposal by Cynthia Hickey

Don’t worry, she’s not dead, but that is certainly a dramatic opening, isn’t it?

I just have to add some of my favorite lines as well, though:

“Choosing forgiveness had helped her choose hope, too.”

A Clean Slate by Susanne Dietze

“You’ve limited God’s grace to man-size proportions … and allowed your fear to grow into God-size proportions.”

Louder Than Words by Gina Welborn

“My uncle Chief Black Bob says that seeing the past makes a man wise, living in the past makes him a fool.”

Louder Than Words by Gina Welborn

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

My Review – A Twist of Faith

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Will a wager against her future steal her chance at true love?

Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position.

For one, Adelina didn’t plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she’d tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past.

But when Reese discovers that he’s a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina’s deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?

Why This Book:

As with my last review, this choice was all about the author. If you have been following my blog you know that I absolutely adore Pepper’s Penned in Time historical romance series. So when I heard she was releasing a contemporary romance, I knew I had to give A Twist of Faith a chance.

Opening Line:

PHD was not supposed to smell like this.

First Impressions:

Above is the actual first line of Pepper’s novel. However, the book opens with a quote from Pygmalion, Act 1:

“Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech:  that your native language is the language of Shakespear and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.”

In fact, each of the chapters in this novel begins with a Pygmalion quote. The quotes appropriately set the stage for what is to come and add a unique element of fun and familiarity to the reading.

The first paragraph continues from the first line to describe the contrast between her perceived prestigious new title – Ph.D. – and her less-than-prestigious new surroundings – namely farmland aromas.  Living not so far from farmlands myself I could instantly smell the particular odors Pepper is referring to and it made me chuckle when she concluded her second paragraph with “Country charm it was.”

Characters:

Adelina Roseland – (First, can I just say how much I love this name in a contemporary romance?) She is less than happy to have returned to her home region of the Appalachians. Her entire focus has been to educate and work her way out of this area and into the big city, but life has thrown her a detour she couldn’t avoid. She’s determined to make it the briefest detour possible until the unexpected warmth and acceptance of the people in her new home force her to reconsider not only her career and life goals, but the very lens through which she has always viewed life and God. She is a well-developed character with layers and depth. She isn’t perfect, but I was definitely in her corner and sympathetic to her flaws.

Reese Mitchell – Loaded with baggage of his own, widower Reese must find his way around and through his emotional scars to follow the incredible pull of his attraction to Adelina. Adding to the complexity is his love and concern for his two young children who are growing attached to the new lady in their lives. This is no two-sided hero, but a richly written man you’ll cheer on through the end.

Rounding out the cast are:  Adelina’s colleague, Dr. Alex Murdock, and Reese’s family, which includes his spunky widowed mother, a few meddling sisters, a big brother battling cancer, and a young niece. None of these characters fall flat and each has their own personality, strengths, and struggles which add to the story.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This isn’t an edge-of-your-seat page turner, but it does keep you reading. There is a gentle but persistent tug to the story which makes you want to know what happens next without making you feel breathless. Though there is some predictability to the plot given its Pygmalion references and the fact that it is a romance, there is nothing boring or disappointing about it. Instead, those elements are received with a sense of enjoyable familiarity. Like cuddling up in your favorite blanket.

Although I struggled to really like Adelina in the very beginning, by the end of the first chapter I was emotionally engaged with the characters and I wanted to see how the story played out. I laughed out loud. I held my breath. My heart ached for them. I grin that silly grin of a romantic ending well earned.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I quite enjoyed the Pygmalion quotes along the way. It made for a unique reading experience.

I also enjoyed how unintentionally poor word choices and believable emotional reactions played out in the story with real impact.

Additionally, I appreciated how Pepper showed that grief is not a linear path but one that ebbs and flows and sometimes surprises us with how it pops back into our lives even after we think it has passed.

Themes:

Don’t judge a book by its cover could be part of the theme, but I think it goes deeper than that. I think the true theme for this book deals with judging an entire group of people based on an experience with one or two of them.

The book also deals with the parent-child bond, as well as the struggle of forgiveness and how the granting or withholding of it affects a person’s life.

Finally, there is an ongoing consideration of what true love really looks like, as well as whether and how dreams can change.

Ending:

I was very pleased with how the twists near the end brought things full circle and even pushed the characters to overcome final emotional hurdles. There is a heart-warming depth and truth to the love the two main characters develop in the end. Nothing shallow in this story.

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

What do you think of Pepper’s contemporary romance? Do you have a preference between historical or contemporary romance in general?

TWEETABLES:

A talented historical author conquers contemporary romance with depth and humor. – Click to Tweet!

Don’t miss Pepper Basham’s Pygmalion in the Appalachians. – Click to Tweet!

Like cuddling up with a favorite blanket, this romance will warm your heart. – Click to Tweet!

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

First Line Friday – 6.16.17

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Can you believe we are already halfway through June? I don’t know about you, but I feel like yesterday was April. At least it’s the weekend, right? Well technically it’s Friday, but Friday is a fun day around here so I’m counting it as the start of the weekend.

This Friday I’m sharing the first line from a book I’m currently reading:  For The Record by Regina Jennings.

 

For The Record cover image

For The Record is the third book in the Ozark Mountain Romance series. Here’s the first line (okay, lines):

October 1885
Pine Gap, Missouri

Only a limited patch of Earth could claim the privelege of belonging to Texas. Not that he despised the rest of the world for its misfortune, but there was a difference.

This line could almost make the hero sound like a stuck up jerk. I haven’t read too far yet, but my impression isn’t that he’s a jerk. Just that he has a definite opinion about things. I haven’t made my mind up yet as to how much I like him. Guess I’ll just have to keep reading. 😉

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

5 Great Historical Fiction Movies & TV Shows

5 Great Historical Movies & TV Shows

The following is far from an exhaustive list, but it is a beginning and features some of my favorites in the category of Great Historical Fiction Movies & TV Shows:

1 Pride & Prejudice – Pick your version! They are all pretty great, but my favorite for accuracy has to be the A&E version. However, I cut my teeth on the 1940s version and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way Laurence Olivier portrayed Darcy. Sorry ladies. I know most of you will opt for one the more modern men, but for me, Laurence plays the best Darcy. It’s all in the eyes!!! And I know that bow and arrow scene isn’t in the book, but ooh la la!

2 Far and Away – I know it’s been around for many, many years now, but it’s still one of my favorites because of its historical accuracy and its smoking-hot, self-sacrificing, tragically-raw, romantically-hopeful romance! Really, if you haven’t seen this one, do yourself a favor and find a way to watch it!

3 True Women – I’m not sure this movie is as widely known despite its all-star (& well-chosen) cast, but it is definitely a personal favorite of mine!  It’s actually based on the novel by Janice Woods Windle who based it on the true lives of her ancestors. Following the lives of two women of the south at a time of great turmoil and cultural change, this film will grip your heart.

4 Hell on Wheels – What can I say? I’m a sucker for the history of the American West (yes, both its good and its tragic). This television series is a decidedly darker show, with an incredibly complicated main character, that unflinchingly places into question the definition of right vs wrong. Inspired by true events, this is a great conversation starter.

5 Bleak House miniseries – Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens, this miniseries does a good job of conveying the complications and injustices of the 19th Century English legal system, the drudgery of daily life at that time, and the emotional responses of those forced to endure it all. I know this all sounds very depressing, but it really was not. I will not say everything ends with sunshine and roses. It certainly does not and there are tears shed along the way, but some things did turn out well in the end and the viewer is left with a feeling of hope.

If you have watched any of these I’d love to read what you think of them. Also, if you have suggestions to add to this list, PLEASE SHARE! I am always eager to discover new movies and shows inspired by history!

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

First Line Friday – 6.9.17

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Oh my goodness does it feel good to be able to breathe easily again! I am stocking up on my vitamins to keep those viruses away for good and looking forward to a fun weekend. What better way to kick it off than with the first line of a few good books?

In celebration of its release this week I am featuring Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer which I reviewed back in May.

Heart on the Line cover image

 

Since I shared the first line of the prologue in my review, today I will share the first line of the first chapter:

Late Autumn 1894
Denison, TX

“Amos Bledsoe! Get out of the street before you run someone over with that infernal contraption!”

This line makes me grin and remember what a unique and amusing character Witemeyer created in Bledsoe.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

Mama’s Storytime – Made For A Purpose

No time for the video or not in a place where you can turn the sound on? Here’s the written version of my review for Made for a Purpose by Kristie Wilde:

I want to tell you about the new book I’ve just discovered which my kids are now big fans of:  Made for a Purpose by Kristie Wilde. This is the first book in the Joyful Creation series. Kristie Wilde did the illustrations as well as the writing. I love the cover, and the artwork throughout the book is just beautiful.

The first line in the book is, “God made everything for a purpose.” This first line is very appropriate as it perfectly encapsulates the theme of the book. The next page talks about beavers in a brief, playful and age appropriate way. Yet there is enough detail and scientific accuracy in the artwork to inspire an educational discussion with your kids. I especially love the illustration of the beaver home.

After beavers, the author moves on to discussing ducks. This is where I discover a unique and favorite feature of this book. She combines her illustration and writing skills by transforming the “W” in the word “webbed” into little duck feet. On the next page she does something similar by transforming the words “eyes” and “head” into a small frog’s head. It’s very clever and not something I have seen in other books. I appreciate how this feature gives the reader an additional clue to the word they are reading, as well as provides a unique reading experience.

On the final page you find a photograph of the author and a brief biography with some background on how the book came to be.

I am somewhat picky about what I read to my kids, but there is nothing offensive in this book. Everything is edifying and God glorifying (without getting into any hot topic issues that divide the denominations). Plus it answers the questions many kids have about why animals look the way they do.

In conclusion, it’s a sweet little book that tells a lot about God and points out things that kids are curious about. I really like that it takes what’s around my kids and reminds them of God. I definitely recommend it. My kids are currently ages 7 – 11 and they all enjoyed it. However, I would probably most recommend this for the 8 and below age group.


Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  View My Promise To Readers HERE.

Do you have a favorite Children’s Book? I’d love to read about it in the comments below!

Viruses Don’t Respect Schedules

I apologize for my lack of interaction here lately. I try to get my posts scheduled far enough in advance to avoid illness interfering, but here my family is going on week 3 of War Against the Virus 2017 and I am officially behind schedule. You know I am seriously sick when I can’t even read. I can’t even consentrate on an Audible book. Forget putting together a comprehensive review. But fear not. Today I got some great meds from the doc and I have every hope of being up and going again soon. In the meantime, can you recommend any great history shows or rom-coms on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon?