Kids Corner: The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly

An Atrocious ARC = An Impossible-to-Review-Fairly Book

The Lost Twin
by Sophie Cleverly


Series: Scarlet and Ivy (Book 1)
Original Publication Date: February 26, 2015
This Edition Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Length: 304pp
ISBN-13: 978-1492633396

Related Links:
Sophie Cleverly’s Website
Sophie Cleverly on Facebook


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Publisher Synopsis

Ivy, I pray that it’s you reading this. And if you are, well, I suppose you’re the new me…

When shy Ivy’s troublemaking twin Scarlet vanishes from Rookwood boarding school, Ivy is invited to “take her place.” But when Ivy arrives, she discovers the school’s true intention; she has to pretend to be Scarlet. She must think like Scarlet, act like Scarlet, become Scarlet. What on earth happened to the real Scarlet, and why is the school trying to keep it a secret?

Luckily for Ivy, Scarlet isn’t about to disappear without a fight. She’s left pieces of her journal carefully hidden all over the school for Ivy to find. Ivy’s going to figure out what happened to Scarlet. She’s got to.

But the staff of Rookwood is always watching, and they’ll do anything to keep their secrets buried…


My Review

This was an extremely difficult book to review, primarily because the advance reading copy provided was an absolute mess. Formatting was more terrible than usual in such copies: paragraph indentation did not exist, causing sentences in different paragraphs to run together; dialogue was often printed without breaks between speakers; and justification was inconsistent, each new page’s differently jumbled look distracting from its content. All of this made for a labored reading experience which produced an unpleasant aftertaste when I finished the book. Because of these problems, I could never get into the plot for long, or focus on the characters as much as I wished. This was not my first encounter with a garbled ARC, but it was surely one of the worst presentations of a text I have come across. What made the whole thing strange is that this is a re-publication of a novel first released in 2015, and a cleaner copy ought to have been readily available to give to reviewers.

In addition to the formatting, there was also the occasional error in plot. For instance, in the first three pages of the book we learn: the year is 1935, Ivy is 13 (meaning she was born in 1922), and her Aunt Phoebe’s husband died during the Great War (which ended in 1918). A page or so later we read that Aunt Phoebe’s husband once told Ivy something. But he was dead at least 4 years before she was born! I initially passed this off as another ARC problem, but I checked the sample at Amazon of the 2015 published copy and found the same passages. It’s astonishing that this was not corrected. (Another example is the “hard wooden floor” that, a few pages later, is suddenly covered with a threadbare carpet.)

To judge from the ARC, the author’s prose could use some trimming. She has a tendency to write “my own” and “her own” where “my” and “her” would suffice, and is overly enamored with “sat down”. There are sections where she repeats a word or phrase multiple times, as if she didn’t proof her work with a sufficiently critical eye. How much of this is due to author oversight and how much to the ARC, I can’t say.

The plot was original and interesting, and it was frustrating to not be able to immerse myself in it. Despite the chaos, a few characters stood out, particularly the evil ones. All in all, the finished novel might well-deserve the 4.42 Goodreads rating it has at present. But even making the usual allowances for an ARC, what I read did not.

                                                                                                — Jennifer Michelle

Verdict

3 of 5 Hearts. An Atrocious ARC = An Impossible-to-Review-Fairly Book.

Judging from reviews at Goodreads, and from those moments when I could connect to the main character and sympathize with her plight, The Lost Twin is not a bad Kids book. But reading this ARC was a chore and so prejudiced me against the novel that I don’t feel I can write an unbiased review. Should I ever have the opportunity to read a final copy, I will update this post.

One thing is certain: It is never a good sign when a publisher cares so little about a book (and, by extension, its author) that it releases such an abysmal copy of the text to reviewers. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky rarely disappoints, but they did so this time.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for providing me with a copy of The Lost Twin in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

The Lost Twin

The cover as published in 2015.

Fiction Shelves: If I Run By Terri Blackstock

An Exciting Christian Mystery-Suspense Novel with Depth


If I Run
by Terri Blackstock


Series: If I Run (Book 1)
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 305pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310332435

Related Links:
Terri Blackstock’s Website
Terri Blackstock’s YouTube Channel

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Buy the Book

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Publisher Synopsis

Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.


My Review

Though classified simply and mundanely as Fiction on the book jacket, If I Run is part Mystery and all Suspense. From the first sentence – “There’s blood on the bottom of my shoes.” – Terri Blackstock captures our attention; within a few chapters, her heroine has secured our support, something her hero also does quickly once the alternate narration starts. From that point, the characters are increasingly interesting, the plot ever-thickening, and the suspense never-ending.

The story of Casey and Dylan, the hunted and the hunter, unfolds logically and in prose that’s neither overly stylish nor dryly pedestrian. We learn the circumstances behind Casey’s flight later than might be expected, but by then her personality and actions have already convinced us of her innocence. Dylan, the war-veteran-turned-investigator, faces a tougher path to uncovering and accepting the truth as he tracks the elusive (supposed) killer of his friend.

Too many times the storytelling device of multiple narrators elevates one character’s voice and/or situation above the rest and those in-between chapters become a drag to get through. But Blackstock has done a good job of making us like and sympathize with both Casey and Dylan, and has plunged each into their own dramatic quagmire, so neither dominates the other. We are equally happy and at home in every chapter, regardless of who is moving the plot.

If I Run does not hide its Christian light beneath a bushel. God and the teachings of Jesus are frequently mentioned, though never in an intrusive or didactic way. One of the two protagonists is a professed Christian, while the other is a doubter, but on a journey to belief, which lends variety and perspective to the story.

When the final page is turned, the reader is left in a perfect place: She feels satisfied with the present book, but is also eagerly looking forward to the next!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Exciting Christian Mystery-Suspense Novel with Depth.

If it’s a can’t-put-down heart-thumper you’re looking for in the Christian genre, grab If I Run and join Casey and Dylan for an absorbing, fast-paced, often thoughtful read.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild and Zondervan for providing me with a copy of If I Run in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

DVD Giveaway: When Calls The Heart, Season 2: Movies 1, 3, 4, 5

Congratulations to Angela W. for winning

The Luck o’ the Hearties Giveaway!

WTCH Giveaway - Shamrocked

 

We at ReadLove are huge fans of the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart. But we know we’re only two of thousands of Hearties, so when we got our hands on an extra copy of 4 of the 5 movies from season two, we knew we had to share the wealth. So here’s what one lucky winner will receive:

 

WCTH Giveaway

(Please note: We do not have Movie 2, but you may easily round-out your collection at the usual online stores!)

How to Enter The Luck o’ the Hearties Giveaway

  1. Visit our Facebook page: ReadLove on Facebook.

  2. Like and Share this post there.

  3. Leave a Comment on the post saying that you Liked and Shared it.

  4. That’s it! But please read the Giveaway Details below before entering!

** Giveaway Details **

The giveaway is open to residents of the United States only, age 13 and older.

The giveaway will end at 11:59pm ET on Thursday, March 17, 2016.

The prize includes four new, sealed DVDs, one of each of the following:

Movie 1: WCTH: Trials of the Heart
Movie 3: WCTH: Heart of the Family
Movie 4: WCTH: Heart and Home
Movie 5: WCTH: Follow Your Heart

The winner will be notified on March 18, 2016 via Facebook IM and is required to respond within five days with the address where the DVDs should be shipped. If no reply has been received by noon on March 23, then a new winner will be drawn.

Disclaimer: The Luck o’ the Hearties giveaway is sponsored solely by ReadLove and is not affiliated in any way with When Calls the Heart or the Hallmark Channel.

The Week in Reviews: ReadLove Recap For the Week Beginning March 7, 2016

 

Another week has come and gone at ReadLove ! Here’s what you may have missed:

Monday:

Music Video: “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin ft. Pat Barrett

“We all have a picture of who we think God is. When we get down to the foundation of what we believe, the truth is that God is exactly who He says He is – a good, good Father.”

[Read the full post]








Tuesday:

Christian Chapters: An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller

5 of 5 Hearts. Kathleen Fuller Affirms That God Can Heal the Most Broken of Hearts.

Thematically, alongside its message of courage in adversity, Kathleen Fuller’s An Unbroken Heart is a moving and instructive story of love and forgiveness, pain and healing, endings and new beginnings.

[Read the full review]

 

 

 

Thursday:

Fiction Shelves: The Newsmakers By Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart

4.5 of 5 Hearts. Forget ‘Page-Turner’ – This Thriller is a Chapter-Turner!

Lis Wiehl’s latest novel is the first in a new series. She’s done an excellent job of establishing her heroine and filling her world with likable characters. More thriller than mystery, the real pleasure of The Newsmakers is in tagging along with smart, savvy, and strong Erica Sparks on her investigations, rooting for her to figure out what we already suspect and hoping that she can save the day!

[Read the full review]

 

——————–

That’s everything that happened on ReadLove this week. See you next week!

Until then, I’d love it if you shared a bit about your week in the comments!

Fiction Shelves: The Newsmakers By Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart

Forget ‘Page-Turner’ – This Thriller is a Chapter-Turner!


The Newsmakers
by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart


Series: Newsmakers (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 337pp
ISBN-13: 978-0718037673

Related Links:
Lis Wiehl’s Website
Lis Wiehl Podcast on The Newsmakers

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AmazonBN

 

 

 


Publisher Synopsis

TV reporter Erica Sparks has become a superstar overnight. But is it due to her hard work and talent? Or is she at the center of a spiraling conspiracy?

Erica Sparks is a beautiful and ambitious reporter who has just landed her dream job at Global News Network in New York. And while it was hard to leave Jenny, her cherished eight-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband, Erica is determined to succeed in the cutthroat world of big-time broadcasting. She can only hope her troubled past won’t come back to sabotage her dreams.

Although the wounds from her divorce are still fresh, Erica can’t deny the chemistry between her and her new producer, the handsome and empathetic Greg Underwood. But a relationship is the last thing she wants right now.

On her very first assignment, Erica inadvertently witnesses — and films — a horrific tragedy, scooping all the other networks. Mere weeks later, another tragedy strikes — again, right in front of Erica and her cameras. Her career skyrockets overnight, but Erica is troubled. Deeply. This can’t just be coincidence. But what is it?

Erica will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But she has to make sure disaster — and her troubled past — don’t catch up with her first.


My Review

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book in two sittings. But with its economical, rapid-fire scenes, charismatic leading lady, intriguing storyline, and brief chapters (less than 4 pages on average), Lis Wiehl’s The Newsmakers dares you to put it down.

The novel makes it clear that its plot is a battle between Good and Evil. Our villain is the physical embodiment of most of the Seven Deadly Sins — with an emphasis on pride, greed, wrath, and lust. He’s also a genius and a visionary, and in a cleverly done prologue, we are put squarely on his side. It doesn’t take long, however, before his true nature reveals itself and the reader sees that all he lacks to be a perfect devil is a tail and a pair of horns. In his employ are others of his ilk – demons, if you will – catering to his every wish, and every bit as callous and ambitious as their boss.

Erica Sparks, on the other hand, our intelligent, hard-working, courageous heroine, has been blessed with angelic beauty, but carries within her a past full of heartache and failure. She fights every recovering alcoholic’s never-ending battle against temptation, and struggles to prove to herself (and her daughter and ex-husband) that she is a good mother. But where the villain of the piece gains and retains his followers through fear and the exercise of financial power, Erica wins the loyalty of those who become her friends and allies with a warm and honest personality. She is far from perfect, but Erica recognizes her flaws and works to improve herself.

As you would expect in a book published by a Christian firm, there is very little in the way of offensive material in either language or plot. With all the sick, twisted bad guys we meet, there’s plenty of opportunity for (justifiable) four-letter dialogue, but Wiehl proves you can build an evil character without resorting to foul language. Personally, I was not offended by anything I read. I will warn those readers expecting an overt, Jesus-oriented, message-carrying narrative, that you will be disappointed. This is a thriller in which the protagonist’s life is lived at a gallop, in near-constant danger, not a sedately-paced exploration of one’s spirit.

That said, when Erica is at her lowest point, confused and frightened, she seeks refuge in a “small redbrick church”, a “safe place…where kindness lights the way”. As she absorbs the calming atmosphere of the sanctuary, she reflects:

All her life Erica has felt like she was running on quicksand, with nothing to save her but her own speed and strength and determination, and no one to pull her up should she start to sink. When she finally found faith…she found herself on firmer footing for the first time in her life. Her faith is her bridge over the quicksand.

It’s the passage that best defines our heroine and explains how she is able to cope with everything that’s thrown her way. It’s also one of the few times in this suspenseful, break-neck tale where the reader, like Erica, can pause a moment and catch her breath!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


4.5 of 5 HeartsForget ‘Page-Turner’ – This Thriller is a Chapter-Turner!

Lis Wiehl’s latest novel is the first in a new series. She’s done an excellent job of establishing her heroine and filling her world with likable characters. More thriller than mystery, the real pleasure of The Newsmakers is in tagging along with smart, savvy, and strong Erica Sparks on her investigations, rooting for her to figure out what we already suspect and hoping that she can save the day!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of The Newsmakers in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Christian Chapters: An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller

Kathleen Fuller Affirms That God Can Heal the Most Broken of Hearts

An Unbroken Heart
by Kathleen Fuller


Series: Amish of Birch Creek (Book 2)
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 289pp
ISBN-13: 978-0718033279

Related Links:
Kathleen Fuller’s Website

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Buy the Book

  AmazonBN






Publisher Synopsis

An argument. A crash. In an instant, Joanna’s world is changed forever.

One minute, Joanna Schrock was arguing with her parents, and the next, her parents’ lives were claimed in a hit-and-run buggy accident. Her body is broken, but her heart is in even deeper pain— after all, how do you cope with your parents’ deaths when your last words were spoken in anger?

After an extended stint in a physical rehabilitation center, Joanna re-enters her Amish life. But nothing is the same—not even her feelings for Andrew Beiler.

Joanna has loved Andrew since the age of twelve, and her feelings have not changed throughout the years. She is thrilled when Andrew wants to get married, but she wonders whether it’s love he’s feeling, or pity. As the couple’s wedding date approaches, Joanna isn’t overcome with the deep joy she was hoping to feel; instead, she’s wracked with anxiety and guilt.

Joanna hears God whispering to her, Be strong and courageous, but she’s afraid that courage looks a lot like walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father.

If Joanna takes the first step toward healing, will it cost her everything she’s ever wanted? Or could God be changing the desires of her heart?


Click here to read my review of A Reluctant Bride,

the first book in the Amish of Birch Creek series.


My Review

An Unbroken Heart/Joshua 1:9

Lately, God’s been teaching me lessons in trust, and He’s not been subtle. He is nearly hitting me over the head, coming at me from all sides. Messages in my daily devotional readings have been aligning with ideas in my recreational reading. “Make friends with the problems in your life…I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Me. Every problem can teach you something,” said Jesus Calling on March 5th, the very same day I finished reading An Unbroken Heart. 

Kathleen Fuller begins An Unbroken Heart by referencing Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God never promised things would be easy, but He does promise to stay by our side. And He makes sure that our suffering does not go for naught. Kathleen Fuller communicates these sentiments with beauty and feeling in An Unbroken Heart.

Having survived the buggy accident that killed her parents, Joanna finally returns home from her stay at the rehab center in Middlefield. But the girl who comes home to Birch Creek clearly isn’t the same. We suspected something was wrong in book one, and our instincts were good. Joanna is broken – physically, emotionally, even spiritually. Lest she forget, she’s got a scar to remind her. Indeed, when God whispers the words, “Rejoice in suffering” into her thoughts, Joanna can’t fathom how she could possibly find reasons for rejoicing over over her parents’ deaths or her broken heart.

As in book one of the Amish of Birch Creek series, this second book follows several characters (Joanna, Andrew, Cameron, Asa) going through seasons of adversity. Again, folks are keeping secrets for varied reasons including shame and fear. Though this is principally Joanna’s story, she’s not alone in her attempts to live according to her wishes and dreams (or sometimes those of others). Though you’d think forging her own path would make her happy, it only increases Joanna’s hurt. To help demonstrate her lesson in trust, Fuller introduces an interesting character: Asa. In his own words, Asa recounts his story of receiving a call from God and what happened when he doubted and disobeyed. Hint: It’s NOT good.

Fuller succeeds in showing how obedience to God can make our paths straighter and ultimately lead to true satisfaction. God knows even better than we what we need. And if we remember to walk with Him in trust, giving our pain and fear over, we’ll find that, even in the darkness, He never left our side. He was taking the broken pieces of our lives – our hearts – and piecing them back together, stronger and better than they began.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. Kathleen Fuller Affirms That God Can Heal the Most Broken of Hearts.

Thematically, alongside its message of courage in adversity, Kathleen Fuller’s An Unbroken Heart is a moving and instructive story of love and forgiveness, pain and healing, endings and new beginnings.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Booklook Bloggers for providing me with a copy of An Unbroken Heart in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Music Video: “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin ft. Pat Barrett


“We all have a picture of who we think God is. When we get down to the foundation of what we believe, the truth is that God is exactly who He says He is – a good, good Father.”


 

Click thru below to download at iTunes.

“Good Good Father”

(Written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown)

iTunes


 

Win a trip to see Chris Tomlin at Worship Night in America!

Click on the photo below for details!

Win a Flyaway to see Chris Tomlin at Worship Night In America


See Chris and Pat share the story behind the song.


More about Chris Tomlin

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More about Pat Barrett

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