Friday, February 28, 2014

Blog Tour & Review :: Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Title: Princess Ever After
Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Zondervan (Feb 2014)

Source: Received from publisher via LitFuse Publicity Group

Purchase a copy and learn more at Rachel’s website.
About the Book:
A Royal Wedding Book

Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.

But she’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairytales.

Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future—and his own.

Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever. Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together—with a little divine intervention—Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.
Review:
This is the book that I've been waiting for since I finished the last page of Once Upon a Prince last year. No, seriously... like borderline cyber-stalking Hauck's Instagram for updates on when she was going to be done writing the next book because you JUST.CAN'T.WAIT!!! I absolutely adored Once Upon a Prince and I have to say, upfront, that I was initially very disappointed that it was a completely new story and not a continuation of the first one. However, once I got over that initial disappointment, I'm glad that it opened up a new world with a whole new set of loveable characters like Regina ("Reggie") and Tanner.

Like I've said before, what girl does not want to be a princess? I think the only thing better than becoming a princess by marrying a prince, is finding out that you were BORN one. Girl power, all the way! This is what happens with Reggie when Tanner, the Minister of Culture of Hessenberg, arrives in her town to inform her that she is the long lost royal heiress to the throne through her Grandmother Alice. Reggie spends most of the story dealing with the conflict of leaving her life behind (where she has recently rediscovered a love in restoring old cars) to be the rightful heiress of a small nation, which she knows nothing about.

It is this journey that brings Reggie and Tanner together and THIS is what I love the most about Rachel's writing. She writes stories about characters that feel so real to you... in their flaws, in their weaknesses, in their insecurities and in their extra "baggage." You love them and root for them. Not only that, but it truly is refreshing to read a clean, light-hearted, romantic love story that is not all about lust and sex. And even though, almost every single one of us will ever marry a prince or be a long lost princess, we are princesses in God's Kingdom! Plus, God's plans are ALWAYS better than our own. It's refreshing also to see real characters struggle with following their own plans (which we always think is better) or obeying God by following His.

Sprinkled throughout the story are journal entries from Reggie's grandmother, Alice, and they provided flashbacks to connect the past and present together. The diary entries provide insight into who Alice was and her innermost thoughts and feelings and definitely add depth to the story overall. I also like that we get a glimpse of Nathaniel and Susanna from the first book. (That definitely helped me get over the fact that the WHOLE book wasn't going to be about them.)

Without giving away too much, there are lots of twists and turns as Reggie has to deal with strong opposition while ultimately deciding whether she's going to follow her destiny and more importantly, her heart. 

Lastly, I wanted so bad to love this book as much as I did the first one. I think I set my expectations so high that nothing could have met them. In addition, the beginning of the story was a little slow for me, especially since I know nothing about cars other than driving them and buying gas, so the early parts of the book was hard for me to get really into because I couldn't relate. It didn't have the same sparkle as the first book, but after I got over myself, I'm happy to say that it was still a very enjoyable story and I hope there's a 3rd one to look forward to.  Rachel Hauck is an amazing writer and I hope there are many, many more books to come from her in the future.

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

About the author:
Rachel Hauck is the bestselling author of ACFW Book of the Year winner Sweet Caroline, RITA Finalist Love Starts With Elle, bestselling and RITA Finalist The Wedding Dress, and of the critically acclaimed fiction collaboration with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, The Songbird Novels. Hauck’s latest release, is Princess Ever After, the second release in the Royal Wedding series. Once Upon A Prince (the first in the series), received rave reviews, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

Hauck earned a degree in Journalism from Ohio State University and is a huge Buckeyes fan. She worked in the corporate software world until 2004 when she began to write fulltime. Although she admits to being Yankee-born, Hauck has lived in the south most of her life and works her southern experience into her stories. She now lives in sunny, though sometimes hurricane-plagued, central Florida with her husband and writes from her own two-story tower.

She is the past president of American Christian Fiction Writers and now serves on the executive board. She was named ACFW 2013 Mentor of the Year.

Hauck is also one of ten author contributors to Southern Belle View Daily.

Visit her website at www.rachelhauck.com to sign up for her newsletter, read her blog and follow her on Facebook (Rachel Hayes Hauck) and Twitter (@RachelHauck).

Check out more posts on the blog tour: http://litfusegroup.com/author/rhauck

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Blog Tour & Book Review :: The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler

Title: The Secrets of Happy Families
Author: Bruce Feiler
Publisher: William Morrow (Dec 2013)

Source: Received from publisher via LitFuse Publicity Group

Purchase a copy and download the Happy Families Toolkit: http://ow.ly/sSUq6
About the Book:
The book that revolutionized our view of what makes families happy . . .

Determined to find the smartest solutions and the most cutting-edge research about families, bestselling author and New York Times family columnist Bruce Feiler gathered team-building exercises and problem-solving techniques from the most creative minds---from Silicon Valley to the Green Berets---and tested these ideas with his wife and kids. The result is a lively, original look at how we can create stronger parent/child relationships, manage the chaos of our lives, teach our kids values and grit, and have more fun together.

The Secrets of Happy Families includes more than two hundred unique practices that will help your family draw closer and make everyone in your home happier. It has already changed the lives of millions of families, and it can do the same for yours
Review:
Who doesn't want to have a happy family? This title grabbed me, but I was skeptical about it. However, I went into this book with an open mind and I'm glad that I did because I did pick up some nuggets of wisdom that I am looking forward to implementing into our family routines.

I think the best way to describe this book is that it is a marriage, parenting, self-help book all rolled into one. In some ways, this book sacrifices depth for breadth, but for the most part, it was greatly appreciated because it dabbled in all different facets of family life. From allowances, to rearranging furniture in your house, to vacation scavenger hunts, and even tips for your sex life. I appreciated the extent to which Feiler researched various team-building techniques from all sorts of groups of people, like at ESPN to the Green Berets, from the 5 Love Languages to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. It was a nice collection of best practices for ways to have fun and grow as a family.

My husband and I have always wanted to write a family mission statement and I'm hoping this book will push us over from just thinking about it, into actually doing it, but Feiler encourages you to build a brand as a family. Also, I am looking forward to weekly family meetings when my kids get a little older. I can definitely see it being a touchstone for our family to build conversation. There are lots of other ideas in this book too and I think as long as you go into it picking and choosing what works for you and your family, you'll definitely enjoy learning more about how to cultivate happiness within your own family.

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

About the author:
Meet the Author: Bruce Feiler writes a column in contemporary families for the New York Times and is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including The Council of Dads. He is the host of several series on PBS, a popular lecturer, and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters.
Learn more about Bruce at: http://brucefeiler.com

Check out more posts on the blog tour: http://litfusegroup.com/author/bfeiler

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