I don't normally read modern day fiction. I usually find them uninteresting. However, I did enjoy A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris. The romance felt a little rushed and the situation that the main characters find themselves in seem mildly outrageous, but it is fiction after all. The part that helped the romance from being ridiculously rushed was the fact that the main characters knew each other years before and were not total strangers prior to this setting. I liked the author's handling of a sensitive topic of the main characters past traumas. Somehow she was able to give them credence without getting bogged down in the seriousness and heaviness of the topics. I felt the relationship between the two main characters was more "adulty" than some...not in sensuality, but in reality. The plot was good and I enjoyed the mystery/suspense within the story.
When I read the back cover of this book, I was enraptured. "OOOO," I thought. "This sounds interesting." And it was. However, it was not really what the description made it out to be.
Our main character, Millie, does play a 1920s-era guest during tours of an estate but do not expect much from that storyline...the actress part. In total, outside of a couple of incidents where the author describes Millie's costumes, I can remember only one "scene" involving Millie actually "acting" in this role. In fact, I believe we had more interaction with Ben in his security guard role than Millie in her reenactment roll. That was a bit disappointing.
However, the book, as a whole, was good. I enjoyed the plot and the main characters had a quirky and cute relationship. I found the balance of the different storyline aspects nice (except for the part about expecting much more from the reenacting side.) If the back cover had been phrased just a little differently, or just a few more actual scenes of her as the reenactor (not just at the estate leaving work) had been included, I think this would have helped with my expectations going into the book.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT:
I was disappointed in one aspect of the romance. We discover that Millie has never been kissed before and when she does experience a kissing moment with our hero the lack of experience is blown off as not a choice she made to wait for the right guy but simply the lack of opportunity. In fact, Ben never even assumes it could be anything more than that.
"I'm surprised you didn't have guys knocking down the door to be with you. But I'm glad you didn't have time for them. I'd have hated to fight them all off, but I would have."
END OF SPOILER ALERT
The GOD aspect of this book is sooooo minor. I wouldn't say that it was an afterthought or anything but it is definitely not necessary to the story. The relationship that the characters of the story have with God is shallow at best. The fact that the characters are Christians is not what is driving anything in the story. My daughter would describe it this way: "BTWs, the characters are Christians."
A Sparkle of Silver was a nice read. I would steer my unmarried, not-dating-because-I-am-waiting-on-the-right-guy daughter away from it not because of anything more than the intensity of the main characters relationship being just a little more than she needs to be reading about when she has chosen to refrain from that.
I have spent my summer doing a lot of reading. The house has been empty except for me most days due to everyone else having obligations. So, in the quiet solitude, I have read. It has been wonderful!
The Thief of Corinth was an unexpected joy for me to read in one sense. I usually do not like biblical fiction. I feel we should just let the Bible speak for itself and not try to add to it. This book, however, was not trying to add to a Biblical account despite the fact that the back cover mentions Paul. The author does use Corinth as its main setting and Paul does show up in the book. However, the storyline is purely fictional. The part of the story where Paul interacts is written in a way that seems very possible for Paul to have actually lived, but does not try to take a Biblical account and add fictional ideas to it.
I will say that I was beginning to wonder how the author was going to solve the final dilemma while keeping Christian morals. I am still contemplating the "justification" as I can definitely see what the author was aiming for, but I struggle a little with the process. I know we see all kinds of shady things taking place in the Bible where GOD's people act in situations in what appears to be ungodly ways to reach an end goal. (For example, Tamar. I mean really. How much more shady can you get?) This is just such a fine line. The following is an excerpt from the book during this dilemma. Don't worry. I left out anything that might make it a spoiler.
"What if God has heard the cries of the many who are being pressed and trampled under...and is
using our predicament as a means of releasing them?"
Yes, I believe the LORD uses our situations for His good. But what must occur for the "release" to come in this situation is questionable.
I'm just still wrestling with it. Because of this issue, I would only recommend this book to a strong Believer. Our society uses the "ends to justify the means" so, so much. I realize that most believe that "all is fair in love and war" and the conflict the author undertook in the final part of her book could be looked at as war..
I find it difficult to swallow that the LORD would ask someone to do something wrong in order to make a right possible.
Other than this issue, I really enjoyed the book. It is well written and I enjoyed the dialogue and writing style very much. The characters were likable, even despite their flaws (which every good character has some). I am anxious to read what must be coming next as the author hinted in her final notes that one of the main characters would not be left here. But, I will do so with caution.
I really was not expecting a lot from this book. In fact I didn't even know this was the author's first finished manuscript (which probably explains one of my criticisms.) But as I read the book I found my most favorite female character EVER for this genre...Em. Just Em. Plain Em.
Caleb wasn't bad either, but he didn't top my favorite male character, Drew, from A Bride Most Begrudging. A few months ago Susan (this blog's real author) and I had a discussion about our favorite male characters from this genre. (Hers is Artham from The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson, but in this genre it is Gideon from Head in the Clouds by Karen Witmeyer.) At the time I couldn't pin down my favorite male. I hold a soft spot in my heart for The Messenger by Siri Mitchell so Jeremiah is a favorite, but he is a little too "wounded soul" to be my absolute favorite character. Then a few weeks after our discussion I picked up Bride to reread for like the third time. Afterwards I handed it to Susan and said, "You may like Gideon, but read Drew. THIS is my favorite."
But, on to THIS book's review.
My main criticism for The Hope of Azure Springs is the dialogue. It just doesn't always flow really well. It sometimes feels choppy and short. Rushed almost. When I finished the book and discovered this was her first finished manuscript, it made more sense. I am not a writer but I have often heard from my son who would love to be one someday that dialogue is a hard thing to get a good grip on. So, maybe as we see Rachel Fordham publishing more books, we will see a more flowly dialogue emerge.
But even this small flaw could not keep me from loving The Hope of Azure Springs.
This book made me cry, ya'll.
Two or Three Times.
Something about the storyline and Em just resonated with me where I am right now.
On the more formal review side, this book is very clean. The romance factor is the way I prefer...kissing saved to the end and the author conveys that they care for each other without telling us all about their tingling feelings. I just can't suggest books like that to unmarried girls, especially. And although the storyline was somewhat predictable, it wasn't entirely. So, I didn't feel like I was rereading all the other books but with a new cover.
Speaking of the cover, I think this book is beautiful. It may not look like anything special on the computer screen, but there is something about the cover that when I received it in the mail, I thought it was amazing. I don't know if it is the colors (yellow and green together are my favorite color combo) or her dress/shawl combo or what. But, I do love the look of the cover.
And I love this book. I so hope Mrs. Fordham continues to perfect her craft and is able to finish another manuscript because I, for one, am looking forward to her next publication.
Minding the Light is the second in Fisher's Nantucket Series. I have not read the first book, however, I do not think that mattered at all. I never felt lost or unsure of characters or events. I believe this book could well be a stand alone. Although, I do plan to read book one and any remaining books in this series as they are published. I believe this is my first time to read Fisher's work and I truly enjoyed it. Although this is a Historical Christian Romance, the romance was not "heavy." I would have no problem suggesting it to a young girl just beginning her journey into adult fiction. Many books in this genre, even though they are Christian, I believe make the romance too much. Yes, I enjoy reading the romantic parts, but let's face it: Our real life husbands don't need us comparing them to fictional characters all the time. Real Men have real world situations that don't always work out beautifully in the end. If I am comparing my husband to a great fictional hero then Hubby will probably fall short every time. That is why I appreciated this book so much. I felt I could enjoy the book without getting so caught up in the romance that I lost my way in the real world. Plus, as a mother of an unmarried young adult woman, I love to find books I can pass on to my daughter without putting undue pressure on her and her desires to find a mate.
Overall, I really enjoyed the storytelling and written art of Minding the Light. It was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more of Suzanne Woods Fisher's work.
This is my first review for Revell books. I received this free copy for the blogger review program but am in no way required to give a positive review.
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I selected this book because of the subtitle: A Natchez Trace Novel. I use to travel the Natchez Trace as a child. I thought it would be fun and exciting to read a book that took place on the Natchez Trace.
Well, it was fun but not exciting. I LOVE to read but get bored sometimes with the same ole, same ole storyline. This book wasn't as boring and predictable as some Historical Christian Romance that I have read lately, but it wasn't anything revolutionary either. Magnolia Glen also is the second in a series of which I had not read the first book. I think that hurt my ability to care about a couple of the characters. The main characters in the first series were pretty prominent in this book and since their character development occurred in the first book, I just never really bonded with them. The author did do a really good job of "retelling" the important parts of the first book so I did not feel lost or anything.
Another minor issue I have with Magnolia Glen is the kissing. It was not excessive but I feel that kissing should be saved for marriage at best, but at least it should be saved for after some sort of commitment is made. And, I have read other Historical Christian Romances that have not had the kissing issue and the story still worked well so I don't think it has to be done early on in a storyline. That is just a personnel preference. Magnolia Glen wasn't overly gushy, but I did want to mention it.
Overall, this was an ok book. I wouldn't call it great, but it was pretty good.
New York, 1776
New York, 2016
Two women. One intertwined story.
Have the tissues ready.
That's really all I want to give you.
I have to admit this book took me by surprise. I had really no idea what it was about going into it. It had been several weeks since I had requested the novel for the review program so I could not even remember what it was about. It would not have mattered. The back description gives you really no idea what you are in for. I read the first two lines of the Acknowledgements page and decided not to continue but to move on to the novel itself.
I am glad I did.
There were small spoilers on those pages.
My review will not contain any spoilers. I simply want to encourage you to read the novel.
It is well-written.
It is a tear-jerker.
It is scary at times...the struggle of the two women and how they mirror my own fears.
It is quietly encouraging.
It is not a feel-good read.
It is not an easy read.
It is not a bubbly romance.
But, it is good. Very good.
I first read This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti as a young pastor's wife and mother. In fact, we were serving in our first pastorate and I was still nursing my first child, the actual owner of this blog! The things my eyes were opened to at that church were...many to say the least. I made a wonderful older lady friend while living in that small town and it was she that introduced me to Peretti's Darkness books. Although I think that Peretti did a wonderful job of writing his books in a timeless fashion, The Delusion feels like a fresh, new, young, and more hip version of those books. I can see a whole new generation being open and aware of the spiritual realm through this series.
I really don't want to give anything away, so I am going to keep this review simple.
The main character, Owen, through an odd encounter, has his eyes open to the spiritual world around him. Owen, in his naivety, uses names such as Creeper and Watchmen to describe some of what he sees. Though not a Christian himself, he is befriended by one named Ray Anne. Ray Anne tries to support and help Owen as he navigates the craziness he is witnessing and in the end takes everyone by surprise.
Although I may not agree with everything this author wrote, I did overall. The were several aspects of the spiritual world that I really enjoyed how they were handled. I enjoyed the book very much and highly recommend it especially to the young adult group. It is an easy read (word wise) but a difficult read for content. Proceed with caution.
The Delusion is the first in a series by author Laura Gallier. This book was provided free of charge as part of the blogger program.
"Adults and children are not just bodies to be fed, but also minds to be challenged,
hearts that depend on emotional input to survive and to grow as healthy human beings,
and spirits that long for connection with God and purpose in life."
Let me start out by saying that I am really struggling with this review. It is not so much that I didn't like the content of the book, because I whole-heartedly agree with it. It is not the writing style of the author, because she is very descriptive with her words and does a wonderful job of painting a picture in your mind. As I was discussing this review with my hubby and daughter (the actual blog's author) I finally came up with a summary of my problem with the book:
It is too upper middle class.
I think our society, at least the part that is portrayed in most media outlets, is too upper middle class.
Of course, I probably think this because I am NOT upper middle-class. Hubby and I have made some choices in our life (leaving his "steady income" job due to theological principles, me staying home to homeschool our children, having a large family as opposed to a smaller one, etc...) that have designated us as much more "lower" income than even the average "middle-class."
Most days I am ok with this. But not always.
When I watch an episode of some home improvement/design show and my house does not even begin to look like that...
Not a good day for acceptance of the place where I am at.
When I see my children, three of the four grown to adulthood, still enjoying to come home and be with hubby and I and each other...
That's a good day for acceptance of the place where I am at.
I really think the author of The Life-Giving Table has a heart for families and wanted to challenge others to invest time together...intentional time together around the table, feasting on food and each other and especially the LORD. However, I just couldn't get past the "upper middle classness" (sorry, I just can't find a better word to describe it) in order to actually enjoy the book.
And I hated that because I was looking forward to reading it.
I DO support the topic completely. But to be honest, I got bored with the book in places simply because it wasn't anything "new" for me since Hubby and I have tried to incorporate these ideas for many, many years now. But it was more than that.
I just kept imagining myself at a younger age, when my kiddos were small and we were self-supporting missionaries. If I had been reading this book as a newbie to the idea at that stage of my life, I would have cried.
Cried that I couldn't fulfill the topic the way her word pictures were drawing it in my mind.
Lack of money. Plain and simple.
As I read the book, the feeling that things had to be so "upper middle classish" just kept coming through.
I am sure the author did not mean this. In fact, there were moments she tried to stress the fact that it did not have to be a certain way. However, it just didn't feel that way as a reader.
Sorry, but that is just how I felt.
So, although I really like the topic, and the author was very sincere in her portrayal, I just can't give it above 3 stars.
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