Friday, March 23, 2012

Review of "The Undaunted" by Gerald N. Lund

Available in book on CD, paperback, and hardcover from Beehive Books

The Undaunted
by Gerald N. Lund

Reviewer: Celeste Estes, daughter of the Queen Bee

Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 804 pages

Goodreads Summary: When it comes to creating spellbinding historical fiction, nobody does it quite like Gerald N. Lund.  In The Undaunted, he transports readers first to the coal mines of Yorkshire, then across the ocean and the plains to the territory of Utah, where, even in 1879, there is pioneering to be done.  A little-known and perhaps even less-appreciated chapter in the Church's history comes to life in this gripping story of a stalwart group of Saints called to create a settlement to serve as a buffer between the established communities of Utah and the lawless frontier of the Four Corners area.  Their challenge will be enormous—but the biggest part of it just may be getting there in the first place.  Skillfully interweaving historical figures and events with fictional characters, Gerald Lund takes us through the Hole in the Rock and over miles of uncharted country that even today is impassable without all-terrain vehicles.  His account of the adventure, romance, and sacrifices of these undaunted pioneers will resonate with readers who love a good story as well as those who want to better understand the incomparable legacy and unconquerable faith of those valiant Saints.

My Thoughts: Okay, so I just realized that the Goodreads summary is actually pretty biased: "spellbinding historical fiction," "skillfully interweaving," "will resonate with," etc.  I agree that this book as history is great.  It educates and brings to life for us a part of history that we do not know much about.

However, as a story, I think it attempts to cover too much time, starting in Yorkshire and ending in the Four Corners area.  I can see why Lund does this.  He wants us to understand the main character and the main character's father with a depth that would be otherwise impossible.  However, because we start so far back, the story ends up having a long and dragged out feel to it.  I found myself liking parts of the story but having to force myself to keep reading when it would switch gears.  Also, although the love story added a fun touch, I felt it could have been executed much better, giving more attention to it and less to some of the other things.  The love development just was not there, and suddenly the story ends with a marriage, surprise!

Overall, I learned enough to make reading this worthwhile, but it was not my favorite historical fiction.

3 out of 5 stars.

Review of "Marian's Christmas Wish" by Carla Kelly

Available in e-book and paperback from Beehive Books

Marian's Christmas Wish
by Carla Kelly

Reviewer: Celeste Estes, daughter of the Queen Bee

Genre: Regency Romance
Length: 295 pages

This book was my Christmas present from Keepin' Up with LDS Bookstores blog.  (I won it in a blog giveaway right before Christmas and it arrived in the mail just in time to be under my tree.)

Goodreads Summary: Miss Marian Wynswich is a rather unconventional young lady.  She plays chess, reads Greek, and is as educated as any young man.  And she's certain falling in love is a ridiculous endeavor and vows never to do such a thing.  But everything changes when she receives a Christmas visit from someone unexpected, a young and handsome English lord.

My Thoughts: I just absolutely adored this book!  One of my favorite books in a long time, I loved the humor, romance, and adventure that this book carried me away on at every twist and turn.  Of course I loved the mid-1800's England feel, but I also appreciated that it stepped away from so many of the typical expected themes of a Jane Austen novel.  This book truly kept me guessing until the end, and I just fell in love with the male character in the story. 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Review of "Gifted" by Karey White

Available in e-book and paperback from Beehive Books

by Karey White

This book is a 2011 Whitney Awards finalist in the General category.

Reviewer(s): Vickie Ricks, the Queen Bee; Celeste Estes, daughter of the Queen Bee

My Summary: After many years of hoping and praying for a child of their own, the Wellers decide that it just isn’t going to happen and try their hand at adoption.  They are given the opportunity to adopt a baby girl who has to be delivered when both of her parents are killed in a car accident.  After just one look, Susan Weller knows this is what she has been hoping for all her life.  But as the baby grows, Susan realizes that something is different with her baby girl.  The child is gifted in a most unusual way.  In trying to protect her child from undue notice, she creates more problems for their family.

My Thoughts: I loved this book.  It is among my favorites, maybe because I am the proud mother of six children who in each of his or her own ways is Gifted.  The storyline in this book will touch even the coldest of hearts.  It is a story that has a message of family, sacrifice, and hope for the future.

Celeste's Thoughts:  I really liked this book.  It had a profound message of love and service.  At first I was not sure how "supernatural" the story would be due to the special gifts of the daughter, but it turns out that it was meant to be something that could really happen.  I liked that.

However, this is somewhat of a touchy feely book.  If you want to be entertained instead of inspired, you will probably prefer suspense or science fiction.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review of "Count Down to Love" by Julie N. Ford

Available at Beehive Books in e-book and paperback
Count Down to Love
by Julie N. Ford

This book is a 2011 Whitney Awards finalist in the Romance category.

Reviewer: Vickie Ricks, the Queen Bee

My Summary: On her way to what she thought was going to be an exciting country singing career, Kelly Grace Pickens is left jilted at the altar and finds out that the man she thought loved her only loved the thought of being married to a star; when that fell through, so did the wedding.  Now Kelly Grace Pickens is homeless and has lots of bills to pay, so she is persuaded to be a contestant on a reality show called Count Down to Love.  She is nothing like the long-legged, slender, and supermodel type contestants that are on the show too, but somehow her down-to-earth country ways are just the ticket she needs to pull off a win.  But, is that what she wants?  She thought all she wanted was the money and then to be sent packing.

My Thoughts: This is a fun book, cute, and well-written.  I liked it because it had its share of twists and turns, which make it interesting and of course make you wish you could fall in love all over again.

Review of "Invaluable" by Holly J. Wood

Available at Beehive Books

by Holly J. Wood

Reviewer: Vickie Ricks, the Queen Bee

My Summary: Eliza Moore is a sophomore in high school.  As with most kids her age she is facing many challenges, including a job that wants her to start working on Sundays, a bestfriend who she has had a falling out with because of boyfriend issues, a younger sister who is becoming distant, love notes that she suspects are being left her by a boy that is giving her unwanted attention, and feelings for his bestfriend who she is head-over-heels for.  All of these things combined would give most young people nightmares but, instead, Eliza gets visits from her great-grandmother.  Together they go back in time to see extraordinary women who help teach her about eight important values.  These values and the great example of these women help her with the challenges she faces.

My Thoughts: This book has a great storyline and message.  A little slow getting into it and not a really quick read but good nonetheless.

Review of "Not My Type" by Melanie Jacobson

Available at Beehive Books

Not My Type
by Melanie Jacobson

A 2011 Whitney Award finalist in the Romance category

Reviewer: Vickie Ricks, the Queen Bee

My Summary:  This is a story of a 23-year-old young woman who calls off her engagement to a man who has asked her to give up what she wants to do with her life to support him in his pursuits.  After the second time of almost making it to the wedding day, she calls it off for good and leaves herself with a huge wedding debt and is still living at home.  Unlike most of us, she has a live-in therapist--her dad.  He challenges her to count her blessings by acknowledging those around her who have blessed her life and to set career goals.  She accepts the challenge, but on the way to fulfilling her goals she manages to botch a job interview and inadvertently stumbles into love.

My Thoughts: This was a fast page turner for me.  I loved the funny way the author approaches situations that we all have found ourselves in at one time or another.  Great book for those who love to love!