Mindy

Feb 082016
 

27971062 The Secret Life of Daydreams

Author: Lucinda Whitney

Publisher: Lange House Press

ISBN13: 9781944137038

Paperback: 256 pages

FTC FYI: I received an ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

Sometimes the dream you never planned for is the one you can’t live without.

Six years after a painful divorce, Josh Conrad is happy traveling the world as a photographer. When he arrives in Portugal, he plans to complete the assignment as quickly as possible. What he doesn’t plan for is Sofia, the girl he baptized eleven years earlier on an LDS mission, and soon he’s making excuses to prolong his trip.

Sofia Monteiro leads a structured life in Braga, Portugal, teaching high school by day and caring for her mother by night. After she reconnects with Josh through mutual friends, the memory of a failed relationship and her new graduate program are enough reasons to stay away from him.

As they collaborate on a project, Josh is wary of repeating his old mistakes and Sofia hesitates to spend time with an American who’s only passing through.

Can two people with wounded hearts bring themselves to trust their dreams to each other?

The Secret Life of Daydreams is a clean and wholesome contemporary LDS romance set in Portugal.

My Review

A great solid effort by the author for her first book.  I enjoyed the story and the characters.  However, at times, I felt some scenes went on too long and there was a lot of unnecessary details that didn’t need to be there, and it did take awhile to get the resolution.  I appreciated the care the author took with her characters, though, and the setting descriptions.  I could see Portugal through the character’s eyes and can only imagine what a beautiful place it is.  The Portuguese words thrown in fit the story, but I was distracted as I wasn’t able to understand most of them.  I did really like Sophia and Josh and what they were able to overcome individually.  The cover is beautifully well done and it fits the story well.

3 1/2 stars, which I will round to 4 in Goodreads and Amazon.

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Jan 222016
 

25205322 My Fair Gentleman

Author: Nancy Campbell Allen

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Published: January 5th, 2015

ISBN13: 9781629720951

Paperback: 248 pages

FTC FYI: Received a paperback copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary 

In this Regency twist of My Fair Lady, Jack would rather be at sea than fixing the mistakes of his grandfather, the late Earl of Stansworth. Instead, he finds that inheriting his grandfather’s wealth and title—and securing the welfare of his sister and mother—means joining the ranks of high society and living with the aristocracy. Luckily, Ivy Carlisle, the granddaughter of a dear friend of Jack’s late grandmother, is willing to teach him etiquette and properly introduce him into society. Jack soon learns that his challenge isn’t surviving his new lifestyle but surviving the conspiracies against him—as well as keeping himself from falling madly in love with his new tutor.

My Review

I absolutely adored this book.  It was a joy from start to finish.  I loved all of it.  Nancy did an incredible job with writing her characters.  All them stood out to me and I longed for each of them to be in the story more.  I especially enjoyed how the story started and ended with the same character.  (He was a very pleasant surprise.)  It took me a chapter or two to appreciate Jack’s character and how rough around the edges he was, but he was great to get to know.  Jack’s love for his mother and sister, and those who were most important to him, showed in his actions.  He is a very devoted person.  Ivy, though, was my favorite.  Her enjoyable demeanor and countenance leapt off the page and I loved it when she and Jack would have their battles of words.  The story takes an interesting turn in regards to Jack and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I can’t give anything away, but he is a great, great guy.  Sophia, too, was a delight.  I honestly can’t say enough about the awesome book.  The pages wouldn’t turn fast enough.  When I reached the end, I was wanting more.

5 out of 5 stars.

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Dec 252015
 

25205324 Home and Away: A World War II Christmas Story

Author: Dean Hughes

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Published: September 2015

ISBN13: 9781629720937

Hardcover: 176 pages

FTC FYI: Received a hardcover copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

A historical fiction novel told from the perspective of a son fighting on the battlefields of Europe during World War II and his mother, struggling with worry and uncertainty about her soldier son while she tries to keep a semblenance of a normal, happy Christmas holiday back on the home front. Norma Hayes has always tried to make Christmas special for her family, but 1944 will make that more difficult with money being tight and wartime rationing making everything hard to come by. Aware of his mother’s hardships and the worry from having her eldest son at war, second son, Dennis, is determined to buy his mother a special gift this Christmas, a lavender blue dress he hopes will bring her comfort as a symbol of special times gone by and the hope of a brighter future with the family reunited at war’s end. Meantime, on the long campaign to free Europe, her soldier son carrys on as best he can, the horrors of war taking its heavy toll on armies and civilians alike. On a battlefield far from home in Holland with his 101st Airborne battalion, he catches a familiar scent of lavender which briefly transports him back to the home front to the perfume scent his mother wore, giving him a short respite and reuniting the family once again if only in his imagination. This historical fiction novel is a nostalgic and tender story about the power of love, the reality of war, and the hope we all have that things will turn out all right.

My Review

I truly loved this story.  It is the perfect book for Christmastime.  The story is beautifully told.  Dennis was my favorite character.  I loved how he treated his mom, with so much respect and love.  It was touching how he wanted to get her the perfect gift and I loved how he was able to obtain it for her.  That part made me cry.  I enjoyed the point of view switches between Dennis and Glen.  The author does a great job showing the hardships of war, for all involved.  How hard it is for the soldiers and those left at home worrying.  Dennis’s father, at times, really frustrated me, but I appreciated him more when I understood his side.  The scenes with Glen at war were written well, one particular scene that had the tears flowing.  I loved how the family was able to come together, as they are waiting to hear Glen’s fate.  The time period was a character itself.  I really enjoy stories about World War II.  Dennis and Glen’s mother, Norma, was a great character.  No matter how hard things were, she always remained positive.  She sacrificed so much for her family.

5 out of 5 stars.  Merry Christmas!

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Dec 032015
 

22024488

A Night Divided

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: August 2015

ISBN13: 9780545682428

Hardcover: 317 pages

FTC FYI: I received a hardcover copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

My Review

My tears have finally cleared so I can write this review.  This book was probably one of the best, if not the best, book I’ve read all year.  I read it as fast as the pages would turn.  Every turn of the page brought a new struggle for Gerta and her family.  I couldn’t imagine living life like they had to.  No one to trust, for fear of being arrested, and to be separated from your family would be heartbreaking.  I can’t summarize a thing for you because one sentence would give it away.  I can say this, I instantly cared for the characters and their efforts to not accept living their lives behind a wall.  Greta was amazing.  One of the strongest, most inspiring characters I’ve read.  Her strength was uplifting.  She was so brave.  I loved Fritz too.  He was just as strong as Gerta was.  A couple more characters, who I can’t name, really shined at the end too.  At one part, I was screaming for joy!  Well, many parts, but honestly, while reading the last couple chapters, I was barely breathing thinking I was going to be heard by the Grenzers.

5 out of 5 stars.  This is the perfect book for any reader.  It truly made me appreciate the struggles the people of that time had to endure.

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Dec 022015
 

25704022 Lost King

Author: H. B. Moore

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Published: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN13: 9781503949621

Paperback: 338 pages

FTC FYI: Received a PDF copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

Undercover agent Omar Zagouri has been ordered to Giza. A prominent Egyptologist was murdered, and a priceless artifact—the only complete version of the Book of the Dead—is missing. Omar is still reeling from the recent disappearance of his girlfriend, Mia Golding, but he puts his quest to find her on hold to track down the lost piece of history.

Omar’s mission is not just to locate the sacred book; he must also rescue the two archaeologists kidnapped and forced to translate its hieroglyphics under threat of death. Their kidnapper is determined to discover the text’s rumored explosive revelation: that Moses did not receive the Ten Commandments from God but instead copied them from the Egyptians. Though Omar’s need to find Mia grows more urgent, he must focus on finding the enemy who will stop at nothing to ignite a controversy that will change history, and the world, forever.

My Review

Another exciting and not-able-to-put-down-book by H. B. Moore. Her characters are flawlessly written and the plot is page-turning. I enjoyed the switch from Omar to Hatshe.  At times the switch would allow me to catch my breath, if only for a moment.  There is heart pounding action and romance as well.  It was hard to say what I liked best in the book.  I know I loved the characters, but if I were to choose a favorite if would be Hatshepsut.  Her strong personality and determination leapt off the page.  As much as I loved the scenes with Omar, and all the action and excitement going on with him, I looked forward to reading more from Hatshe.  Heather has a talent and is a very gifted author.  The reader will appreciate all the research and care put into writing this book.  All of the characters and scenes are written well.  This story reads fast and is very action packed too.  Omar is a great character too, and I enjoyed his sense of humor.

5 out of 5 stars.

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Sep 302015
 

 

23528089 The Afterlife Academy

Author: Frank L. Cole

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Published: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN13: 9780385744812

Hardcover: 288 pages

FTC FYI: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

For fans of “Because of Mr. Terupt, “Mr. Terupt Falls Again,” and” Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, ” this funny, suspenseful adventure is about two very different twelve-year-old boys who must save the world from demons while dealing with parents, school, bullies, and girls.

Walter Prairie knows how to deal with bullies. He just has to beat them to the punch. But he doesn’t see the biggest hit of his life coming when he is struck dead by a bolt of lightning. Before Walter even knows what’s happened, he is sent to a Categorizing office, fast-tracked through the Afterlife Academy, and assigned as a Guardian Agent to protect a High-Level Target.

Walter’s HLT, Charlie Dewdle, isn’t exactly the most popular kid in school. He’s what you might call paranormally obsessed. When Charlie finds an ancient book with spells that can be used to open the Gateway for demons to wreak havoc on earth, it’s up to him and Walter to fight an eclectic horde of enemies and protect humankind at all costs.

But saving the world isn’t so easy. Especially when your protector doesn’t know the first thing about the Underworld, bullies like Mo Horvath are trying to hunt you down, pretty and popular Melissa Bittner is suddenly talking to you, and your parents think you’re going crazy.

My Review

The Afterlife Academy is another very enjoyable book from Frank Cole.  I am a big fan of his books, and I was thrilled for this new adventure.  Frank writes perfectly for his audience (and for the adults, like me, who enjoy his books).  His writing truly reflects his personality.  He is a super fun guy with lots of humor and heart, and this book is a great example of that.  This story is so much fun and the characters are awesome, even the bad guys.  Walter and Charlie couldn’t be more different, but I loved how their friendship develops.  There is tons of fun and adventure with every turn of the page.  The twists and turns were enjoyable.  There was one scene with Charlie and his parents that had me laughing out loud!

5 out of 5 stars!  This is the perfect middle grade book, and I loved it!

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