Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: Miss Match by Erynn Mangum

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Lauren Holbrook has found her life's calling: matchmaking for the romantically challenged. And with the eclectic cast of characters in her world, there's tons of potential to play "connect the friends." 

Inspired by the recent success of matching her sister and new husband, Lauren sets out to introduce Nick, her carefree singles' pastor, to Ruby, her neurotic coworker who plans every second of every day. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything. 

When Lauren's foolproof plan begins to unravel, she learns that a simple introduction between friends can bring about complicated results. And as she reconsiders her new role as Cupid (as well as her vow to stay single forever), will Lauren finally decide that God's plan is always good enough?

My Thoughts:
Oh my word, this book is a riot! I love Lauren and her random thoughts, how she says whatever pops into her mind, and her chocolate and coffee addictions are tons of fun, too!

In many ways Lauren is just a big kid, though she's 23, she still has the fun and care-free attitude of someone a bit younger. This lets her get away with saying and doing some outlandishly crazy (funny!) things, and often no one reacts except to give her strange looks. Lauren's sisters and close friends are quirky enough to banter back and forth with her sarcastic comments, leading to some very humorous dialog.

As the book progresses I was able to see subtle changes in Lauren's maturity level, and at those times she often remarks that growing up stinks, which made me smile because at times I totally agree. :) It's fun and encouraging to see her grow in maturity, and at the same time she is maturing spiritually as well.

If you're a fan of the TV show Gilmore Girls, stop right now, and immediately purchase this book! Lauren's personality is quite similar to Lorelai Gilmore's in many ways, from her sarcastic comments and off-the-wall bantering, to her junk food and coffee additions. The family situation is different, but the personality and light-hearted tone is there. Best of all, Lauren Holbrook is a Christian, so the content of the novel stays very appropriate, all the while being fun and witty!

Erynn Mangum is high on my list of favorite authors, she just has a way with chick-lit that no one else can match. I wish I could reach into the pages and pull her characters into reality, because I want to be friends with them! :) I wholeheartedly recommend this book, and the rest of the series, as well.

My Rating: 5 stars

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review: Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

Book Cover and Synopsis:
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

My Thoughts:
This one's a winner! I really liked how a great deal of the feelings between Meredith and Travis stemmed from their short encounter in the woods when they were young. Travis has a mysterious air about him, which Meredith romanticized all through her teen years, regardless of the fact that their single encounter was short and rather tragic. Twelve years later Meredith still thinks fondly of him, and it's her dreamy ideas that get them both stuck in an awkward spot... very innocent, but with scandalous appearances.

Though thrust into a wedding just shy of shot-gun style, they still manage to quickly develop feelings for each other...but neither knows the feelings are reciprocated, so they both try to woo the other, all the while attempting to keep a safe distance and not come on too strong. This is quite sweet to watch, and rather amusing at times.

Parts of the story have a slight edgier tone than the average Christian historical; certainly not extreme by any means, but the fact that they are married without really knowing each other comes into play. Travis sleeps in a separate room, and Meredith wonders if that will ever change, and what she can do to change it. There's nothing inappropriate and it's very tactfully done, the content is just slightly different from the more common novels that end with a wedding and go no further.

Karen Witemeyer has a talent for writing captivating historicals, and this is no exception! A while back I read a couple of her other works, but I had forgotten just how entertaining and engrossing a tale she weaves. I'm definitely going to be looking up the rest of her titles to see what I've previously missed!

My Rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reading Challenges for 2013

Happy New Year! I've decided to sign up for a few reading challenges for 2013. Last year I read a total of 56 books, so I figure it won't be too much of a problem for me to meet some goals in 2013. ;)

Here are the challenges that I'm taking on for 2013:

E-Book Challenge
hosted by Workaday Reads
I'm going for the "DVD" level, which is 25 e-books.
I love my kindle, so doing this challenge is going to be awesome.

 Mount TBR Reading Challenge
hosted by My Reader's Block

I'm aiming for the "Pike's Peak" level, which is 12 books,
although it's possible that I'll bump that number up as the year progresses.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
hosted by Historical Tapestry

I'm going to start with the "Renaissance Reader" level, which is 10 books,
but it's quite possible I'll increase my goal mid-year.

I've never done a reading challenge before (unless you count summer reading programs at the library), so we'll see how it goes! :) Is anyone else signing up for challenges? Maybe even some of the same ones I'm signed up for? I'd love to hear!