Thursday, August 28, 2014

With Every Breath

Title: With Every Breath
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Labels: Fiction | Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Recommended To: Adult, YA
Contains: Clean

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston holds a respectable position as a government statistician when she encounters a rival from her past, the insufferable Trevor McDonough. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and she's bewildered at the way he suddenly seeks her out. Surprising even herself, Kate agrees to Trevor's entirely unexpected and risky proposal to work side-by-side with him in his quest to rid the world of tuberculosis, a contagious and deadly disease.
          As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, she realizes there is much more to him than she could have imagined. His hidden depths may fascinate her, but his most closely guarded secrets and a shadowy enemy lurking in the background carry a serious threat to their future. When the truth of the past comes out, threatening to destroy everything they hold dear, how will Trevor and Kate ever overcome all that stands in their way?
I ended up really liking this book, despite my initial hesitation due to the fact that I wasn't crazy about the cover. Yes, I am one of those obnoxious people who have it ingrained it in them to judge books by their covers. My apologies. Anyway, I gave it a chance and was rewarded with a great story.

Normally I talk more about the plot and romance and stuff like that, but for this book I was to talk more about the characters. The characters impressed me the most because they were very well rounded and fleshed out, and were very interesting and real--and that's a hard combination to come by. I loved that Kate had a strong motivating factor based on her fears, which is easy to relate to for most people. But her motivations and persona wasn't just around Trevor, but rather carried over into her relationship with her brother and family, as well as other characters in the story. As for Trevor, I liked him for essentially the same reason. His own motivating factor drove him to be the person he was, and carried across the board in his life. It just all struck me as something that was very real in everyone's life. Not only were they motivated by individual things, but they were eventually able to overcome and change those motivations with work.

The entire story and characters carried a great relatable story and inspiration. Definitely recommended. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Castaways

Title: The Castaways
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Labels: Fiction
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: June 8, 2010
Recommended To: Not Recommended
Contains: Sexual Affairs and Profanity

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy's closest friends for what will be revealed. Once again, Hilderbrand masterfully weaves an intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life.
I only made it about a fourth of the way through this book before I decided I wasn't interested in finishing it. Initially, I had picked this book up because it looked interesting and sounded like a different and unique plot. The plot centers around a group of friends--all married--and the after affects of the death of one of the couples. Since the couple died alone at sea during a short anniversary trip, no one knows exactly what happened, although one or two of the friends begin to have suspicions that it wasn't an innocent accident.

I'm not going to really sugar coat this--and if others don't agree, that's fine, they are welcome to their opinions, as I am to mine. I stopped reading this book because *spoiler alert* at least two people in the group of friends were revealed to be having affairs with other people in the group, and because of the profanity. People were kissing other peoples wives/husbands or worse, and secrets were being revealed that showed the lack of honor for faithfulness in marriage. The whole thing ended up being something I didn't want to fill my head with, and so I put the book down for good.

I would not recommend this book, despite it's initial appeal. I bought this book, and therefore was not asked nor required to write a review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

The Blue Bistro

Title: The Blue Bistro
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Labels: Fiction | Contemporary
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Recommended To: Not Recommended
Contains: Profanity

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Adrienne Dealey has spent the past six years working for hotels in exotic resort towns. This summer she has decided to make Nantucket home. Left flat broke by her ex-boyfriend, she’s desperate to earn some fast money. When the desirable Thatcher Smith, owner of Nantucket's hottest restaurant, is the only one to offer her a job, she wonders if she can get by with no restaurant experience. Thatcher gives Adrienne a crash course in the business...and they share an instant attraction.
          But there’s a mystery about their situation: what is it about Fiona, the Blue Bistro's chef, that captures Thatcher's attention again and again? And why does such a successful restaurant seem to be in its final season before closing its doors for good? Despite her uncertainty, Adrienne must decide whether to open her heart for the first time, or move on, as she always does.
This isn't going to be a very long review, because I only read the first 100 pages (give or take) before deciding I didn't want to finished it. Hold on, lemme rephrase that: I wanted to finish it, but I decided I shouldn't finish it. I wanted to finish it because the plot itself was interesting. Adrienne is a woman who, after a disastrous event, heads to Nantucket with a plan to start fresh. Part of this fresh start includes finding a job and paying back a loan from her father and she finds this job at a restaurant--an occupation far from her expertise. The characters were fleshed out and well rounded--the whole story (at least the part I read) was very well written.

However, I decided I couldn't finish it because of the profanity used. It wasn't so frequent as to be on every page--they were actually dispersed, and often several clean pages would go by before another profanity was mentioned. However, I personally would prefer not to read--not even quickly skim over or have to skip over--f-bombs and b-bombs and other bombs of the sort. I realize not everyone will agree with my view on profanity, but I personally would rather not read materiel that puts it into my head.

Because I believe profanity is wrong and should not be read, said, or dwelt upon, I cannot recommend The Blue Bistro. I bought this book, and therefore was not asked nor required to write a review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Married

Title: Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Married
Author: Gary Chapman
Labels: Relationships | Marriage
Publisher: Northfield Publishing
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Recommended To: Singles, couples, men, women
Contains: Adult subjects

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Gary Chapman writes, "Most people spend far more time in preparation for their vocation than they do in preparation for marriage." No wonder the divorce rate hovers around fifty percent. Bestselling author and marriage counselor Gary Chapman hopes to change that with his newest book. Gary, with more than 35 years of experience counseling couples, believes that divorce is the lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as intimate teammates.
          So he put together this practical little book, packed with wisdom and tips that will help many develop the loving, supportive and mutually beneficial marriage men and women long for. It's the type of information Gary himself wished he had before he got married. The material lends itself to heart-felt discussions by dating or engaged couples. To jump-start the exchanges, each short chapter includes insightful "Talking it Over" questions and suggestions. And, the book includes information on interactive websites as well as books that will enhance the couples experience.
This is a book that was assigned to a college class that I wanted to take, but unfortunately was not able to due to conflicting schedules. The class was about marriage and family matters, and I had a lot of friends who were able to take the class. They all agreed that it was the best book assigned to the class, and recommended it. I bought it, but only got the chance to read it now.

Chapman pointed out twelve different areas that most couples don't take the time to discuss prior to marriage, and as a result, they end up in arguments over these areas. His premise is for couples to think and talk through these areas prior to their wedding, or if they are already married, to work through these areas together sooner rather than later. Each point had examples and was well explained. The chapters ended with discussion questions that could be answered alone or with the other person in a relationship.

I would definitely recommend this book to singles, for things to keep in mind for the future; for dating couples, to talk over and discuss before making the decision to marry; for engaged couples, to prepare for their impending marriage; and for married couples, to help eliminate stress and problem points in their marriage. I bought this book, and therefore was not asked nor required to write a review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Labels: Fiction | Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: July 3, 2010
Recommended To: Adult
Contains: Minor references and a good bit of violence

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
          Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I was very curious to read this book, since I finally watched the entirety of the movie. I'm well aware that when book are turned into movies, the movie always loses something in the transaction. While the movie wasn't a huge deal for me, I was interested to see how far the movie strayed from the book and what the book had to offer that the movie lacked. As it turns out, I think the book is better than the movie, although the movie does do a pretty good job of portraying the main story.

Probably what I loved most about the book was Katniss' point of view and thinking process. Since it was exclusively from her point, the reader could only know facts which Katniss herself knew. While it at times it was possible to understand other characters' ulterior motives and plans, it was interesting to see how Katniss put the pieces together herself. I liked the reality that while the "romance" between her and Peeta is what ultimately saves both of them, she had a hard time separating what was her own true feelings and setting them aside from the act. Her confusion over her own thoughts and feelings were easy to relate to and made her a stronger character in the long run.

I know there are some pretty strong viewpoints on this book--some people things its over the top great, while others are crazy against it due to the violence. I think Collins did a good job of using the scenario in order to portray her real point--we, as humans, are quickly becoming desensitized the the violence in the world, and to some degree and turning to a point where it's used for enjoyment (ex., violence based movies). The point of the book was to bring awareness to this fact through an extremely exaggerated scenario--and I think it worked. I would recommend this book to an audience who will understand the agenda of the book and keep it in mind. I bought this book, and therefore was not asked nor required to write a review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Eragon (Inheritance Cycle, #1)

Title: Eragon
Author: Christopher Paolini
Labels: Fiction | Fantasy
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 26, 2005
Recommended To: Ages 12--Adult
Contains: N/A

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: One boy . . .One dragon . . .A world of adventure. When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.
          Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands.
This is one of my close friend's favorite book, which is why I decided to pick it up when I saw it on the shelf at a consignment shop. I had heard of it previously because of an article written about the author by HSLDA, and therefore was aware of the story of its writing and publication--both were good reasons for me to give it a try. At first I wasn't thrilled over it; the start was a little slow for my liking, and not a whole lot of action was going on. However, my opinion of it quickly changed to a more favorable one as the story quickly picked up pace.

I ended up really enjoying this book, to the point that I started hurrying to be ready for work early so that I would have a few extra minutes to read before I left for the day. The plot line was very unique, especially for a fantasy. Paolini seemed to know just where to go outside the lines but not so far that the reader could get lost. I liked Eragon and enjoyed watching the connection he had with his dragon, Saphira. I thought it was cool that both of them grew and learned together, although Saphira clearly had a leg up on the wisdom end of things. The humor traded between the two was amusing and kept me waiting for more.

Overall I really enjoyed reading Eragon, and definitely would recommend it. I bought this book, and therefore was not asked nor required to write a review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Meant to be Mine

Title: Meant to be Mine
Author: Becky Wade
Labels: Fiction | Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Recommended To: Women, Adult
Contains: Mild references and adult situations

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty feels exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel. The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be anybody's husband. As a professional bull rider, he lives on the road and can't bring himself to settle down.
Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the face of the one woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had. How much will Ty sacrifice to make Celia's dreams come true, to win her trust, and to prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?
Meant to be Mine is a book which follows the reconnected relationship of bull-riding Ty Porter and baker Celia Park Porter, and their daughter, Addie. After the two spontaneously married in a whirlwind romance, the unthinkable is revealed on the morning after their wedding. The two part ways, expecting to never see each other again. Five and a half years pass before the two cross paths again, only for Ty to discover he has a child and for Celia to discover that her unforgiving, distrusting, and angry feelings toward Ty have not changed.

I can honestly say I have never read a book that had anywhere near the same plot line of this book. This is the absolute most unique romance I have ever read to date. Each of the characters were extremely well developed and had interesting and developing stories and personalities. I loved watching Ty and Celia's budding romance unfold, all the way to the last page.

This is an incredible story of regaining love, trust, and extending forgiveness, as well as second chances. I would recommend it in a heartbeat! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Broken Kind of Beautiful Review

Title: A Broken Kind of Beautiful
Author: Katie Ganshert
Labels: Fiction | Christian | Romance
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Recommended To: YA, Women, Adult
Contains: Mild mature topics/references

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four-year-old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she's learned a sacred truth -- appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows -- so when it starts to unravel, she'll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother's bridal wear line -- an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.
This is quite possibly my new favorite book. Ganshert's latest book reminds me very much of her first book, Wildflowers from Winter, in that the emotion was very raw--which I liked. The entire plot had me engaged and hooked from the beginning, and kept me flipping pages far later in the night than I should have been reading, and hurrying through homework just so that I could read more.

I stinking loved the story line. I thought it was very original, and although it was a romance, it had more to it than just the romance plot line. The characters--all of them--each had their unique struggles and reasons for why they did the things they did. I was especially interested in Davis' background. Early on in the story I had a rough guess as to what was his "demon of the past," but I never could really figure it out completely, therefore drawing me in further to unravel it--and it surprised me, it wasn't quite what I had expected it to be. The main character, Ivy, I loved--she had such a real and emotional background, and I loved reading more about her.

Overall, this is now one of my favorite books by a long shot. I would recommend it in a heartbeat! Katie Ganshert has proven herself to be an awesome writer, and is definitely one of my favorites.  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Power of A Half Hour

Title: The Power of A Half Hour
Author: Tommy Barnett
Labels: Inspirational
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Publication Date: 2013
Recommended To: YA, Adult
Contains: N/A

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: What can you do in 30 minutes? Have lunch? Watch television? Check Facebook? How about change your life? Why do some people achieve far more than others? We all get the same 24 hours in a day, yet a special few seem to have superhuman abilities when it comes to accomplishing great things in life.
Tommy Barnett, a proven master at “getting things done,” says the key to maximizing your productivity is to make use of small, manageable moments in your day—just 30 minutes at a time.  In this remarkably practical book, Tommy shows how to begin a whole new life of fruitfulness. You’ll see immediate results in all areas of your life, including your—Purpose and values, Personal goals, Faith, Character and attitude, Dreams, Career, Relationships, Marriage and family, Church involvement and ministry
Why not change time from being your worst enemy to your everlasting friend? It all starts with the amazing things you can do in only a half hour.  Through inspiring stories and biblical principles, discover how your downtime can have a major upside. Get going—you don’t have a minute to lose!
Although, I'm currently very disciplined in my time management, I haven't always been this way. And due to my busy schedule, I'm always on the lookout for ways to increase my time management and get the most out of my time. Hence, when I was given the opportunity to read and review The Power of a Half Hour, I jumped right on it. I don't regret it for one minute.

In this book, Barnett talks about ways and reasons to use half hour segments to the best of your ability and for the greatest purposes and outcomes. One of the things I really liked about the format of the book was that each chapter was short enough that even a slow reader could easily read at least one chapter within a half hour (I found myself making it through 1-3 per half hour). This format allowed me to immediately put into practice Barnett's concept of using half hour segments to accomplish goals.

Despite my extensive research on the subject, I still learned a great deal from this book and I definitely believe I gained from it. I definitely would recommend it to anyone who is looking to increase their time management and gain a better understanding of just how valuable half hours really are. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Boston Marathon: A Day of Remembrance

A year ago today was the bombing at the Boston Marathon. 
This unexpected and tragic event took several lives and injured hundreds, forever altering their lives as they knew them.
A year ago today I was in Boston, on the campus of the private college I attend.
I honestly couldn't tell you what I had been doing prior to discovering the news--homework probably.
I honestly don't even remember the exact moment I found out.
What I can tell you, is what happened after I found out.
I remember standing in the doorway of the lounge in my dorm, staring at the floor while listening to the frantic reporters on the news.
I didn't look at the screen, because at that point the bombs had gone off only moments before, and the news stations were putting on whatever footage they had. 
I remember avoiding looking at the pictures as I listened, because the reporter was saying that already the injured were being accounted for, some of which included lost limbs.
I remember thinking that if I looked at those pictures and, by some awful chance, caught a glimpse of injuries that severe, my already sensitive constitution wouldn't hold out.
After a few minutes I wandered back to my dorm room, only to leave a few minutes later and make my way to the main building and common lounge.
There, on the big TV screen on the wall, the news was also playing.
I remember sitting on top of the ping pong table as students gathered to watch the news together.
At that point the news stations were beginning to restrict which images they showed, and so I watched along with everyone else.
Only a small handful of images played on the screen, alternating back to a live reporter periodically.
I remember wondering what was going to happen--was this all there was to the bombing, or would more occur?
Was this just the start?
Thankfully it wasn't the start of something bigger--bigger than its already huge impact.
The Deans and Resident Assistants called and texted everyone to make sure everyone was accounted for--some of our students had been out and about that day, though thankfully none were in proximity of the bombing.
The campus went on lock down and we all waited tensely as Boston turned into a ghost town and grounds for a manhunt.
I remember calling my mom and telling her to be ready to change our plans for the weekend, because if they hadn't caught the guy by the time she was supposed to visit me, there was no way in heck I was going to let her come into the city.
I'm rather proud of Boston.
Technically, I'm not a legal resident of Mass. -- I'm just a student who spends most of her year in Boston.
I really haven't even lived in Boston for that long.
But Boston is my home.
Rather than falling apart at the seams, the people of Boston banded and grew together.
Boston has become much stronger through the endurance of this tragic event.
Even today, no matter where in Boston you go, you hear and see Boston Strong.
Today is a day to remember.
Remember those killed; remember those injured.
Remember the lives changed.
Remember to pray for the families left behind.
I wouldn't wish this event on anyone.
But it has made Boston stronger.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Sensible Arrangement (Lone Star Brides, #1)

Title: A Sensible Arrangement
Author: Tracie Peterson
Labels: Fiction | Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Recommended To: YA, Adult, Women
Contains: Age appropriate innuendos

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Marty Dandridge Olson is a widow looking for a way out of Texas. Widower Jake Wythe has secured a job as a bank manager in Denver, only to discover that the bank board wants him to be a married man. With Texas in his roots, he advertises for a Lone Star bride, and Marty answers the call. They both agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.
Marty works to carve out a new life in high-society Denver as Jake works to guide the bank through a collapsing economy. But when money goes missing at the bank and accounting discrepancies point to Jake, he must find a way to prove his innocence. Yet all he wants to do is go back to Texas and own his own ranch. Marty, on the other hand, owns a ranch–one she’s never told her husband about. She hates Texas because it represents the losses in her life. But as the couple grows closer and love begins to bloom, Marty realizes she needs to tell Jake the truth. Can she come to terms with the past and her anger toward God in order to make room for love?
Due to college, this is the first pleasure book I've read in a long time--and it came as a welcome relief! I've been dying for some fiction for so long, and this definitely helped my fiction addiction. Marty and Jake both quickly grew on me and their story interested me and, despite the lack of time, I managed to finish the book in a relatively short period of time.

For the better part of the book I was dying for Jake and Marty to legitimately get together (hopeless romantic kicking in...). The suspense got to be a bit much for me by the end--apparently I need to learn some more patience while reading. Haha! The plot was definitely unique, and one which I'd never seen done before, nor in the way Peterson chose to do it.

Overall I thought this was a great book. I found it easy to get lost in and involved in the characters and plot. I was happy with the ending, although I'll admit I wish there had been a little more detail or a little longer ending. Definitely recommended! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Emma of Aurora (The Change & Cherish Trilogy)

Title: Emma of Aurora
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Labels: Fiction | Christian | Historical
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Recommended To: Women, Adult, YA
Contains: Slightly mature references/clean

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads:
A Clearing in the Wild: When Emma’s outspoken ways and growing skepticism lead to a clash with the 1850s Bethel, Missouri colony’s beloved leader, she finds new opportunities to pursue her dreams of independence. But as she clears a pathway West to her truest and deepest self, she discovers something she never expected: a yearning for the warm embrace of community.
A Tendering in the Storm: Determined to raise her children on her own terms, Emma suddenly finds herself alone and pregnant with her third child, struggling to keep her family secure in the remote coastal forest of the Washington Territory. As clouds of despair close in, she must decide whether to continue in her own waning strength or to humble herself and accept help from the very people she once so eagerly left behind.
A Mending at the Edge: As a mother, daughter, sister, and estranged wife, Emma struggles to find her place inside—and outside—the confines of her religious community. Emma reaches out to others on the fringe, searching for healing and purpose. By blending her unique talents with service to others, she creates renewed hope as she weaves together the threads of family, friends, and faith.
Book One: I thought this was a fantastic start to what I anticipated would be a great trilogy. I thought Emma was an interesting character in an interesting and unusual setting. She is considered an outspoken woman in her community where women do exactly what they are told and don't question. I will admit I would have liked to have seen small signs earlier in the book that more women secretly felt the same way she did about issues, even if they still remained in silence. I think the complete submission from all other women made the community a bit distant to the reader initially. This, however, changed later on. I thought this was a great start as Emma made the journey with her husband and other men to a site for the building of a new community, and the trials faced along the way.

Book Two: This second book in the trilogy had me beating my head on a wall just a little bit. Not because it was bad, but because I could see where Emma's choices were taking her and I kept telling her not to do it and evidently my pleas weren't working... It was cool to watch and see how Emma was brought to a new point of understanding of life and people, and a new viewpoint of those around her. I also really liked that we got to see Louisa's point of view from time to time. It made her character much more real and helped to round the readers view of all that was going on and better understand the opinions held by the characters.

Book Three: This book was a great end to the series. It was great to watch Emma learning, growing, and slowly finding her place in her new home at Aurora. Not only was she finding her own place in the midst of the community, but she was also helping others who found themselves in their own difficult situations. As her viewpoint continued to change--as it began to in the second book--she learns to see the good in others. Old enemies slowly become equals as Emma matures, though still possessing her quirky uniqueness.

Overall I thought these were great books and great series. I loved following along beside Emma throughout her life.I thought it was really cool that this series is based off a real person, a fact I hadn't realized until I was reading the acknowledgements in the back. Very cool. I would definitely recommend this series! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.