Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for―her Choosing ceremony―to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker is an intriguing and spell-binding novel that is the first in her Seer Novel series. Rachelle Dekker is the oldest of Ted Dekker's children, and her writing style demonstrates a similar flair to his novels but with her own unique twists. The Choosing is set in a dystopian future where man-made vaccine turns into a Cancer that decimates society and leads to the formation of a new Authority, religion, and way of life. The plot follows the main character Carrington as she becomes a Lint and has to choose if she will obey the rules or find freedom in the truth. I love how the character that is supposed to represent Jesus turns Carrington's beliefs upside down as he reveals what it means to be truly chosen and loved for who you are, not your societal position. This novel is full of analogies like this, suspense, mystery, danger and forbidden romance. Rachelle alternated between chapters early on in the novel that discussed the history of the new society, Carrington's point of view, Remko's (one of the guards) perspective, and the unknown killer's thoughts and actions. All of these different perspectives are related from the third person.

The characters in this novel are well developed and highly intriguing. I enjoyed seeing Remko and Carrington interact with each other and others as they attempted to understand what true freedom and love are. Other minor characters added to the storyline tremendously and helped weave together a truly enjoyable story. I would highly recommend this novel to those readers who enjoyed Ted Dekker's fantasy-style novels, and I look forward to reading the next Seer novel.

I received this novel from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Perfect Egg by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park

A cookbook all about eggs, with 70 diverse recipes for meals, snacks, and desserts, from the team behind the beloved food blog Spoon Fork Bacon.

Eggs are one of the world’s superstar foods: inexpensive, protein-rich, versatile, and easily renewable. Every culture has its own take on eggs—for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and The Perfect Egg features a dazzling, delicious variety of globally-influenced dishes. From Blackberry-Stuffed Croissant French Toast to Hot and Sour Soup, and from Poached Yolk-Stuffed Ravioli to Creamy Lemon Curd Tart, the more than seventy recipes in The Perfect Egg offer a fresh, unique, and modern take on the most humble of foods.

This book is an excellent resource for cooking with eggs, understanding the differences between types of eggs, and the best techniques when using eggs for different dishes, such as meringues or particular breads. The first part of the book goes over choosing eggs, understanding the information on egg cartons, and then the basic anatomy of an egg. The next section goes over the basics of using eggs, such as cooking, handling, storing, and making sauces, pastas, and breads with eggs. After that the recipes are divided into sections: Morning, Lunch, Snacks (afternoon), Dinner, and Sweets. These recipes are illustrated beautifully with pictures, and they contain very descriptive but concise directions. I have been satisfied with all of the recipes I have tried so far, and I have really enjoyed all the variations listed for quiches and pancakes. I cannot wait to try some of the sweeter options, such as the Blackberry Stuffed Croissant French Toast or the different Custard variations. Overall, I was very pleased with this cookbook, and I look forward to using it for years to come. 

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Remnants: Season of Fire by Lisa Tawn Bergren

After tackling her first mission and coming to terms with her power of empathy, Andriana discovers her first battles were only a taste of what is to come. She and her knight, Ronan, have admitted their feelings for each other, but their bonds are tested when Dri is captured by their mortal and spiritual enemy—Sethos—and his master, Keallach, emperor of Pacifica. Andriana is certain Keallach can be convinced to follow the Maker's plan and join the other Remnants … but in time, she must decide whether she really can pull him back to the Way, or if Sethos's web of darkness has slowly and thoroughly trapped them both … forever.

Remnants: Season of Fire is the second novel in Lisa T. Bergren's Remnants series. Set in a future dystopian age, Dri, her knight Ronan, and the other Remnants are still working to free Kapriel from his brother Keallach's prison while avoiding capture from Sethos and the Sheolites. I also appreciated how the Remnants were not afraid to go back into dangerous places in order to tell the people the truth about the Maker. I liked this novel even better than the first one, and I was left even more intrigued by both Niero and Keallach as this novel drew to a close. The book was jammed packed with intrigue, mystery, suspense, danger, and romance. Ronan and Dri are forced to endure both physical and emotional separation, and for the first time we are allowed to experience Ronan's thoughts and feelings from his point of view instead of only seeing events from Dri's perspectives. The characters become even more complex in this novel, and Keallach may not be as evil as he seems, or he may be worse... I also enjoyed how the author wove in biblical truths, such as trusting God and relying on His strength instead of our own. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to reading Season of Glory when it comes out.

I received this novel from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

 Read first chapter excerpt here

Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen before his promising career was shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship. Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglements with members of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for their futures?

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden was an interesting and well written novel that kept me glued to the pages. While slow to start at first, this novel was extremely well researched and contains very interesting information about the Library of Congress and politics during the late 1800's that is portrayed in a most fascinating way. The plot was well crafted and included elements of mystery, suspense, betrayal, loss, and romance. The characters were extremely realistic and complex, and they continued to grow and to change as the novel went on. Anna was a fascinating character who had experienced much pain and loss as a child, but she continued to pursue her dreams to work with books and to find out what happened to her father. Her job was very intriguing as well. Luke was a complex individual who also had experienced hurt and pain as a small child and was still showing the repercussions of it. I highly enjoyed watching the relationship between these two characters grow and deepen slowly as it seemed very realistic and not at all rushed like in many books. I also liked how these two characters helped sharpen and refine one another and how each in turn found God and began to trust him with their lives and hearts. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I thought it was a wonderful mix of history, suspense, and believable romance. I would definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good historical romance.

I received this novel from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble

A vacation to Sunset Cove was her way of celebrating and thanking her parents. After all, Claire Dellamore's childhood was like a fairytale. But with the help of Luke Elwell, Claire discovers that fairytale was really an elaborate lie . . .

The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean's Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. She feels it in her bones. Her ensuing panic attack causes a scene, upsetting her parents. Claire attempts to quiet her nerves with a walk on the beach, to no avail. She's at too great a distance to make out details, but she believes she witnesses a murder on a nearby cliff. When local police find no evidence of foul play, they quickly write off the "nervous" woman's testimony as less than credible.
But Luke Elwell, home on leave from the Coast Guard, has reason to believe Claire. Years ago when his mother went missing, Luke's father suspected she'd been murdered. He died never having convinced the police to investigate. So when an employee of the grand hotel doesn't show up for work, Luke steps in to help Claire track down the missing woman.
As Claire and Luke put together the pieces of a decades-old mystery, they discover that some family secrets refuse to stay buried. And some passions are worth killing for.

 The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble was an intriguing novel that kept me enthralled as I tried to figure out the secret of Claire's past. The plot line of this novel was expertly woven with mystery, suspense, danger, and even a little romance. The mystery in this novel was fantastic as I was just as in the dark to what had happened as the main characters. The main characters, Claire and Luke, were interesting and fairly well developed. I thought they grew as characters as they began to unravel what had happened so many years before. Claire especially had much to deal with as she sought to understand who she was. There were several minor characters who turned out not to be so minor after all as more secrets were uncovered. The only two things I did not like as much about this novel were that the romance between Luke and Claire seemed very sudden and almost contrived, and I wish there had been a few more Christian elements, especially during Claire's personal struggles. There was some, but there easily could have been more without it being overwhelming. Overall, I enjoyed The Inn at Ocean's Edge, and I would highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a good mystery with a little romance thrown in.

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.