Book Review

Book Review: A Voice in the Wind (Mark of the Lion #1) by Francine Rivers

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Christian Historical fiction / Romance
Length: 544 pages
Author: Francine Rivers
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Release Date: March 1st, 1993
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The first book in the bestselling Mark of the Lion series, A Voice in the Wind brings readers back to the first century and introduces them to a character they will never forget—Hadassah. Torn by her love for a handsome aristocrat, this young slave girl clings to her faith in the living God for deliverance from the forces of decadent Rome.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT ENDING.

I’ve read some cliffhanger books in my day (looking at you Shadowhunters). I’m generally used to it, can keep my cool. NOT THIS TIME. I sat there gasping and closing my eyes (listening to this as an audio book) with my spouse staring strangely at me wondering what my problem was. TRUST ME, there’s a big problem.

I digress, we’ll move on. Just know, there’s a big cliffhanger at the end.

Anywho, this book started off a bit slow for me. There’s a lot of world building and character structure that goes into setting the scene for the craziness that was Ancient Rome. I love that this Christian historical fiction was set in this time period because it did add to the uniqueness of the category. It’s not often to see so many gladiator battles in this genre.

As I settled into the book I became really involved with quite a few characters lives. Especially Marcus and Hadassah. How could you not?! Watching this doomed relationship even attempt to break soil was tearing at my heart. I felt a lot of the emotions right along side of the characters as they made their destructive choices. Speaking of destructive, I CANNOT EVEN with Julia. How I loathed her so much and it made me like the book more because of my strong emotions. Her awfulness would blow my mind and I think she needs to stay faaaar away. Going back to characters I enjoy, Atretes is now my favorite gladiator. I loved watching how his inner turmoil and struggles affected him. He is a strong and bold man looking for a light at the end of the tunnel that he can’t see, yet.

This story was filled with an intense amount of happenings. Occasionally, I did find it a bit preachy. At other times, I felt like it sang to my soul. There’s a good mix of biblical scriptures and the roughness that was Rome. The writing slowly pulls you in to where you can’t look away as the pages keep flying past. I’m anxiously awaiting reading the next book!

Overall audience notes:

  • Christian Historical fiction / Romance
  • Language: some derogatory and vulgar
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; mentions of sleeping together and hints at knowing about many partners, etc. but no actual detailed scenes
  • Violence: gladiator battles, starvation, physical beatings, poison, murder, see Trigger warnings
  • Trigger warnings: slavery, extreme starvation, abortion (described in detail), domestic abuse, eating disorder, murder, abandoning a newborn

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Rating: ☆☆☆ 
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Abby Jimenez
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

HMM.

I’ve had a lot of friends read this. And I have heard literally every review under the sun. All things from 1 star rants to 5 star raves. I have decided that I’m smack in the middle. There was some parts I did like (hint: Josh) and some parts I didn’t like (hint: Kristen).

Good stuff first, JOSH. Dude, this guy put up with so much crap throughout this entire book and I feels deserves more praise. He was sweet, funny, attractive and the kind of guy I would enjoy being around. The only thing that happened that I didn’t love was his drunk confession of love. I personally just don’t like those scenes.

Bad stuff next, Kristen. I was really hoping to see a bigger character arc from her. I knew the main subject of the book was infertility and the struggles Kristen was going through involving that. Her despair was palpable and I truly felt for her (and those) in that situation. I thought I would see her come to a better understanding of herself and knowing she is more than whether or not she can have a child. There was no change until the last page of the epilogue where I finally felt she was at peace. I wish this had come sooner. Her sarcasm and wit were on fire and she had me laughing at some point. Yet, Kristen’s CONTINUAL pushing away of Josh instead of just LISTENING for a minute almost annoyed me.

The romance was good. I liked the build up. The only thing that bothered me was the emotional cheating. I know some people don’t consider this cheating, personally I do. After that point I loved watching the banter and heat between Kristen and Josh.

I was emotionally attached to some parts of the book involving Kristen and Josh. I was HIGHLY involved emotionally in Sloan and Brandon’s story. I’m still a bit shaken up over it because I was blind-sided by that whole bit. Makes me curious where Jimenez’s next book will take us (I’ve heard good things about it too!).

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: A LOT of strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, two love scenes that were too descriptive for me personally (on the very explicit spectrum)
  • Violence: car accidents, discussion of a firefighters life
  • Trigger warnings: infertility

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: Don't Go Stealing My Heart by Kelly Siskind

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 333 pages
Author: Kelly Siskind
Publisher: CD Books
Release Date: April 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She wants to steal his Van Gogh. He wants to steal her heart.

Some people would call Clementine Abernathy a criminal. She considers herself a modern day Robin Hood, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Not exactly on the up-and-up, but she knows what it’s like to lose everything. Her latest heist involves swiping a priceless Van Gogh from its owner, who’s supposed to be an egotistical trust-fund brat.

Turns out Jack David is a sexy, kind-hearted man…and Clementine is in trouble. Falling for her mark would make her the World’s Dumbest Conwoman, but Jack is charmingly persistent, always singing sweet songs in her ear.

And that earth-shattering kiss? She never stood a chance.

Now she’s imagining a fresh start with this dashing man, but that means telling Jack about her past. And other nefarious sorts are after the same painting. Too soon, Clementine learns what it means to risk it all for love.

Thank you to Kelly Siskind and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

BURNING LOVE.

I didn’t know that I would love an Elvis, tribute artist, as much as I did. But Jack swooned me away with those hips and voice [which unfortunately had to be totally in my head] BUT STILL. Ultra-swoonworthy Not-Maxwell Jack is a lovely romantic interest.

Clementine was a solid heroine. I thought the way she approached her past was heart-breaking, but what she thought was best (at the time). I loved seeing her learn to accept love and trust in her life. It was a long time coming for Clementine to get a break for once. The way she gave up what she was doing, knowing it was wrong, was the kind of changes I love seeing. Especially the fact that she communicated with Jack.

Now, the communication was great for 95% of it. Then, the critical moment when she honestly should have just said something to Jack, she decided it was best to go in the complete opposite direction? WHY. Clementine spent the entire time learning to open up, and when the test came, she failed. And it bothered me. I thought it at least worked out better than I’ve seen in familiar moments in other books. It let to a bigger reveal that I hadn’t quite realized was happening.

I thought the story was cute and playful. The idea of Clementine being a Robin Hood-type criminal was different than my usual romances. Add in the fact that Jack loves dressing up as Elvis and I have definitely never read a book like this! I love its uniqueness factor. Kept me interested and flipping pages. The small town vibes and sub-plots were great. There was a good amount of steam and innuendo throughout. You can feel the slow burn between them (even as the time is short), for a more insta-love, it was written so well I hardly noticed. I was cheering on Clementine and Jack.

The ending was a bit abrupt. After the big ending, it skipped to a year-later epilogue. While that kind of jarred me, I did love the epilogue. It was perfectly cute and the best happily ever after. I can’t wait to read her next story!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs, innuendo, a few very detailed love scenes
  • Violence: guns, physical, knives
  • Trigger warnings: mentions of Clementine’s parents suicides (at different times, methods mentioned); abusive foster family situations

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Christmas Like This (A Love Like This #2) by Carina Taylor

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance novella
Length: 148 pages
Author: Carina Taylor
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I know exactly what I’d like to put in Trey’s stocking: the biggest lump of coal I can carry.
Unfortunately, I won’t get the chance, because our boss has delivered an ultimatum: plan the company Christmas party with Trey and learn to get along, or else.
After only one day of trying to plan the Christmas party, I’m ready to pick the “or else.” Is it possible to learn to get along with the most aggravating, overprotective, handsome guy I’ve ever known?
We’re about to find out if we can get our names off the naughty list or not.

IT WAS CHRISTMASY AT LEAST.

This is a novella, so my review will be shorter than usual. I am on a quest for some great Christmas reads, this could have been better.

I think this actually would have been more enchanting if it was longer. Things happened way too fast and background information was thrown out haphazardly and inconsistently. I know there was sadness and drama put in to add an emotional component, but I wasn’t feeling much towards anyone.

The banter between them did get better over the novella. At first, it honestly seemed flat out mean and made me cringe. The push to create the enemies to lovers trope flew off the handle and I was happy when it turned down and they were able to communicate civilly with each other.

Definitely great Christmas vibes and I loved the plot of them having to plan the Christmas party together. I did like the writing, just felt like everything needed a bit more.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance novella
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: car wreck

Instagram || Goodreads