Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Sometimes it seems like Ramona Quimby’s older sister, Beezus, gets all the attention and privileges in the family. In fact, Mrs. Quimby lets neighbors and friends know she couldn’t get along without Beezus, and Ramona feels left out. Yet, a drastic decision Ramona makes will remind her just how her mother feels about her in Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary.

What a pleasure to revisit one of my favorites in the Ramona series. (What a double-pleasure to have obtained a copy that even smells like the one I read all those years ago. Oh yes indeed.) Cleary has such an understanding of life through the eyes of a seven-and-a-half-year-old, showing how much those childhood matters matter. Reading chapter books! Feeling carsick. New pajamas! Mom and Dad have a spat. And, yes—practicing one’s cursive handwriting!

There are dashes of humor that got laughter out of me. But the story (and the Ramona series altogether) doesn’t avoid real-life situations that friends and families can find themselves in. And, gee, much like when I recently reread Ramona and Her Father, being able now to understand this story on a greater level from both an adult’s and a child’s point of view makes it all the more touching.

Sure, I may be growing even more sensitive in my adult years, but if a children’s book ever got a tear out of me toward the end, this one did. I blame the wonderful illustration that accompanies the scene!

Let’s see now, I’ve got two more Ramona books to revisit, and the newer one I’ve not read before…

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Here’s my review of Ramona and Her Father.

Dying for Love by Cara Putman

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book, for which I’ve given an honest review.
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Dying for Love by Cara Putman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Anything of value is worth a fight.”

Ciara Turner and David Evans once failed to make a go of their personal relationship, since their attorney roles often put them on opposing sides of family cases. But when they discover a judge they both admire has been murdered, they’ll have to work together on the investigation in Dying for Love by author Cara Putman.

Hmm. Kinda did a double-take there, as the official book blurb keeps mentioning “Daniel.” The character’s name is David.

Anyhow, I wanted to read this novella before reading the first novel in the Hidden Justice romantic suspense series. Or is it a legal thriller series? Well, I’m a fan of both!

While I would’ve liked to get a more convincing sense of the guilty party’s motive here, why this particular culprit had taken so drastic a step as murder, I think I was into the suspense side of the story more than the romantic one. I found the romance tricky to follow emotionally, but it also seemed redundant in places, with some thoughts and doubts being rehashed a time or two more than was needed.

Still, the story has put me in anticipation to continue this romantic-suspense-legal-thriller series, which I’ll be doing soon.

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Dying for Love is the beginning novella in the Hidden Justice series.

  

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

With the potential for greatness, Lydia is poised to become a notable expert and seller of purple in a Roman world, despite her being a woman–and an unmarried one, at that. But it will take more than success in her trade to free her from deep-seated fears that threaten to be her undoing in Bread of Angels, a novel by author Tessa Afshar.

I don’t have many “I’ll read any novel with his/her name on it” authors, but this author is one of those for me. I got what I was expecting here: a rich and touching story, delving deeply into the life of the heroine in a historical/biblical setting. While this book is certainly a standalone, if anyone may be interested in or plans on reading the novel Land of Silence by Afshar sometime, I’d recommend reading it before this one, for possibly spoiler-ish reasons.

Now, I’ll admit I enjoyed the first two-thirds or so of this novel more than the final parts. Recognizing Lydia from the Bible, I knew the renowned apostle Paul would be a part of this story. But I’ve seen it before in a different book by another author too, when Paul’s presence onstage practically nudges the main character into more of a minor role while Paul is there. Lydia seems to fade somewhat with the incoming of new characters in the later scenes, and as the story stalls a bit in the midst of their increasing Scripture and faith discussions, it felt for a while like I was reading a different book than the one I’d started. It also appears the story runs out of time for some major events and rushes to tie them up with a few short summaries in the last chapter.

Still, I’d gladly recommend this novel to fellow readers of Biblical Fiction, and I’m keeping my eyes open for more from this author.

Illusionary by Desiree Williams

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
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Illusionary by Desiree Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A tumble down the stairs lands Kamryn into a different world, the Land of Ur, where she meets a handsome storyteller who can bring stories to life. The storyteller takes Kamryn to the Oracle, who gives Kam a dangerous rescue mission to complete before she can get back home. But the mission proves to be much more than it appears to be in Illusionary, a novel by author Desiree Williams.

Awe. Some. Ness. I wasn’t ready.

I mean, the book starts out cute and funny (and Kam is a pretty funny heroine throughout, by the way.) Then the parallel world escapades begin. I’ll confess that it took me a while to catch up with the romance, as I didn’t enter as quickly or deeply into “the feelings” as the heroine and hero did. And my overall interest waned a tad through some of the traveling and in-between parts.

But the story would stop me in my tracks in places, sometimes with a single, spoken word. “Heal.” “Hope.”

“But hope…now that’s a mighty thing,” Kamryn says. You’ve got that right, sister! And before and after a crucial twist, this story presents an assortment of other wonderfully woven themes: growing up and innocence, grief and illness and regret, finding out who you really are and what you’re capable of. True bravery!

It’s a fantasy tale like The Chronicles of Narnia in that it’ll speak to you on multiple levels if you have the ears to hear it—but whether you go to those other levels or not, it’s still a darn good adventure.

And I’ll have you all know, I had to push past imminent tears to even write this review. Good grief, Desiree Williams…

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Illusionary Blog Tour Giveaway!
Ultimate Book Lover’s Grand Prize

The winner of the giveaway will be selected on Monday, June 12th at approximately 9 AM (EST). The winner will be announced on Desiree Williams’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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