Monday, April 14, 2014

Through the Deep Waters

Book description:  "Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.
 
The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her.  Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?"

My review:  Kim Vogel Sawyer takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster in Through the Deep Waters.  On one hand this was a difficult book to read, but on the other hand I couldn't put it down!  Prostitution is a very difficult but real subject.  Ms. Sawyer did an excellent job portraying the horror and the devastation that results from that kind of lifestyle without going into inappropriate detail.  Even through the horror, a feeling of hope is woven throughout the story with the plan of salvation clearly given in the culmination of our ultimate hope and forgiveness being revealed. I would recommend that mothers read this book before allowing their daughters to read it.  While there is nothing inappropriate, the content is such that each mom will need to make the decision as to whether their daughters are old enough/mature enough to read this book.   I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.


Monday, March 31, 2014

A Sensible Arrangement

Book description:  "Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.Answering an advertisement for a "Lone Star bride," she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn't know.  Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.
Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience. 
When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake's yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty's dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.
What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways...and dreams and secrets collide?"
My review:  This is the first book in the Lonestar Brides series by Tracie Peterson.  If this is a taste of what the rest of the series will be like, I look forward to reading them all.  Marty exemplifies so many women.  She is always trying to manipulate the situation to accomplish the outcome she desires and learning many lessons along the way.  Marty also has a sense of humor that makes the reader laugh in unexpected places.  Her many unexpected circumstances leave the reader anxiously waiting to see what she will get into next.  Jake compliments Marty, and the two of them create a wonderful, captivating, sometimes hilarious story.  A Sensible Arrangement is another book by Tracie Peterson that I highly recommend.  It is a thoroughly enjoyable book.  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  

Bluebonnet Bride

Book description:  "At the turn of the 20th century, Elli Korpela boards The Baltic with hundreds of eager women, all seeking new beginnings and brighter futures in America . . . as mail order brides.
Escaping a forced engagement, Elli seeks refuge in a faraway marriage, desperately needing her new life with a Texan named Nathan White to be safer than the one she left behind in Finland. And as she glimpses her future husband and his darling niece at the train station, she instantly knows her risk will prove the best decision she's ever made.
Until he became the guardian of four-year-old Hannah, Nathan White never took an interest in marriage, arranging a mail order wife to simply love and care for his orphaned niece. That is, he never took an interest until he laid eyes on the beautiful Elli Korpela.
After a fairytale ceremony in the gardens of the grandest estate Elli's ever seen, a place called Butterfly Palace, their peaceful beginning takes a disquieting turn as an intruder brutally attacks Elli in the middle of the night. Nathan intervenes, but the devil escapes unidentified, leaving Elli to face two chilling possibilities: either the attack was arranged by strike workers in Nathan's employ or her shadowy past followed her into the present – and across the sea.
As the danger mounts, Elli and Nathan must face their enemy together, fighting to stay alive – and fighting to stay man and wife."

My review:  Upon seeing the author of this book, Colleen Coble, and reading the book description, I was eagerly anticipating reading this book and fully expecting to stay up late into the night.  I was sorely disappointed!  First of all, I was let down before I even started.  When I opened the book on my Nook, I realized it was only a novella. That reflects poorly on the publisher for not noting that.  The story itself was also a let-down.  There basically was no story.  The book description indicates a wonderful plot.  That plot was not developed.  Reading the book description tells you the story and the book adds a little bit more to the ending. But, that is one of the problems with novellas.   I expect better from Colleen Coble.  She is one of my favorite authors.  Hopefully this book is the exception and does not become the norm.  Her name alone will sell this book, but if she writes many more like this one her name will no longer be popular.  Don't waste your time on this book.  Read the book description and you know what happened, then move on to another book.  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All  opinions are my own. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Kissing Bridge

Book description:  "In the third book in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series, award-winning author Tricia Goyer introduces a surprising new resident to West Kootenai as a young woman escapes from her stifling conservative Amish community to find a new life. Rebecca is an Amish woman whose pained past compels her to leave everything to become a nurse—abandoning her family and community. Caleb is an Amish man who is counting down the days until hunting season. At a crossroads in his own life, the excitement of hunting game is all he looks forward to. All the while he wonders what to do with the rest of his life. Even though he likes the Amish lifestyle, what good is an Amish man without faith in God?
An unexpected meeting pushes them together, and they embark with friends on a two-week-long wilderness wagon journey. Hardship tears down the flimsy walls of protection they've placed around their hearts, and as their friendship grows they open up to each other and eventually reveal their deepest secrets. While on the outside they appear to be traditional Amish people, inside they both know they are anything but that. Will their secrets pull them together or draw them apart? And will their faith in God grow? There is a bridge to cross at the end of the journey. Will true love take them across?"
My review:  Unusual Amish stories no longer surprise me.  It seems that the typical Amish stories are a thing of the past.  This one certainly does not fall into the typical category.  Not only does Rebecca not fit the mold, the Amish in Montana don't fit the mold either.  I still enjoyed the story and appreciated that the author is sensitive to the Amish way of life but still shows that many Amish have found that the way to God is through Jesus.  I loved the analogy of the bridge and finding our way to God.  I loved that the author, Tricia Goyer, included the plan of salvation very clearly.  Tricia Goyer has always been an author that I have enjoyed.  This book was no exception.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan publishers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mercy Like Sunlight

Book description:  "Closely paralleling the biblical account of Mary Magdalene, this novella follows the fictional journey of Mary Margaret Delaney, a mentally ill woman adrift in contemporary Chicago, desperate for someone to save her from herself.  When Pastor Jake Stauros invites Mary Delaney to visit his "church full of misfits," the woman known around the neighborhood as "Mad Mary" has little hope that her life will ever change. But gradually, as grace erodes the walls she's built to keep the world at bay, Mary's fear gives way to a force stronger than any she's ever known. Adapted from material previously published in Unveiling Mary Magdalene and Mad Mary, this e-only novella has been updated and revised throughout."

My review:  This was a very thought-provoking book for me.  While only a novella, the author, Liz Curtis Higgs, packs a lot of story into only a few pages.  She has a way of telling her story that draws you into the lives of her characters.  Since these characters parallel Biblical characters, the story becomes even more intriguing.  Once you finish reading this book you will come away convicted to reach out to the "misfits" around you.  Liz Curtis Higgs is a great author.  This is a book that you don't want to miss.  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Waterbrook publishers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Table by the Window

Book description:  "The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn—does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career?
 
After the death of her grandmother, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and dark secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery away from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story. 
 
Inspired by her grandmother’s evolving story, Juliette resolves to explore the world of online dating. To her surprise, she finds a kindred spirit in Neil McLaren, a handsome immunologist based in Memphis, Tennessee. With a long-distance relationship simmering, Juliette faces life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary life and Neil, a man a world away in more ways than one? And is it possible her Grandmother’s story can help show the way?"

My review:  This is book one in a series by Hillary Manton Lodge, who is a new author for me. Written in first person, Juliette has a way of telling her story that will make you laugh in places and cringe in others.  She never has a dull moment and keeps the reader turning pages in order to find out what will happen to her next.  Some events are a bit unbelievable, but I think that just adds to the story.  The author also includes recipes throughout the book.  Most of them are too involved for the ordinary cook but sound delicious.  As I began to get near the end of the book, I did not see how the author would wrap things up with so few pages left.  As it turns out, she left almost all of the loose ends loose!  Not the way I like to have things end.  There was no closure for any of the important events in the book.  I know the next book will continue the story, but I do not like to be left hanging on everything.  This is the type of book that I would normally wait to read until all of the books in the series have been written.  However, I did not know that the book would end this way.  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.      

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Distortion

Book description:  "Juliet Cole’s life has been dismantled by the murder of her husband. She doesn’t know who—or what—to trust when everything she has believed to be true about her marriage has been a lie. When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is gunned down in a dark parking lot before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning. When she’s finally allowed to return home to break the news to her boys, she hears a voicemail that takes the situation from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack. "Mrs. Cole, we know you have access to the supply and the money. If you don't turn fifty million over to us and give us the codes, then you'll be burying more family members."
Suddenly, Juliet realizes that she and her children could be in danger. She teams up with her sisters and PI Michael Hogan to dig into the sham Bob has been living for years. The more she learns, the worse the betrayal. A drug trafficking history, a fortune in cash, and a secret family all emerge to turn Juliet’s belief system on its head, and threaten the things she loves. Are she and her sisters skilled enough as sleuths to get to the truth?"
My review:  It has been a long time since I have read a book by Terri Blackstock, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy her books.  I won't be letting as much time pass between the next one. She has a way of weaving her mysteries so that you can just begin to put together a few clues but not enough to solve the mystery before the end of the book.  This was one of those books.  I only wish I had read the first book in this series.  While not necessary, it would have helped me to understand some of the references made in this book.  If you are looking for a tale of mystery, murder, and suspense that will keep you turning pages until the very end, this is the book for you!  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Zondervan Books through the BookLook Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.