Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Where Courage Calls

Book description:  "Her courage and her heart will be tested in ways she never expected...
Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father's wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way. 

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she'd feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don't even speak English. There isn't even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth's heart is torn between two young men--both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she's had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?"

My review:  I was so excited to see this book, since I have always been a fan of Janette Oke.  I was disappointed, though.  It just wasn't as good as her other books.  I realize she and her daughter co-wrote the book, but I was expecting better.  Where Courage Calls started out slowly and never really seemed to pick up.  It was a story of day-to-day living and even though there was a little mystery, the story was just lacking.  Some of the characters could have been developed a little more, and some of the sub-plots weren't developed enough to allow the story to flow and have continuity.  I do appreciate that the plan of salvation was given, and the main characters clearly live a life of faith.  So many Christian fiction novels do not give a clear Biblical message, but that is not the case with Where Courage Calls.  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A February Bride

Book description:  "Allie left the love of her life at the altar - to save him from a lifetime of heartbreak. When a Valentine's Day wedding brings them back together, she struggles against her family's destructive history. Can Allie ever realize that a marriage is so much more than a wedding dress?
History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day - in the same dress passed down for generations and worn by all the women in her family - women with a long history of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus but fears she's destined to repeat her family's mistakes. She can't bear to hurt Marcus worse.
Marcus Hall never stopped loving Allie and can only think of one reason she left him at the altar - him. When the two are thrown together for his sister's Valentine's Day wedding, he discovers the truth and realizes their story might be far from over. Can Allie shuck expectation and discover who she is as a bride and in the Bride of Christ? And if she ever walks down the aisle, what dress will she wear?"

My review:  This is the third novella in the "A Year of Weddings" series that I have read.  While it is not my favorite, A February Bride is still very good.  This particular novella fell into the "trap" that a lot of novellas fall into, the book wasn't long enough to develop the plot.  I really enjoyed the book, but I think it needed to be a full-length novel.  It is a fun story, and I loved the plot and the characters.  The author seems to have a great sense of humor and it shows in her writing.  If you need a quick easy read, this one fits the bill, but expect to be disappointed that it wasn't longer.  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A January Bride

Book description:  "What will happen when novelist Madeleine Houser's 'pen pal' friendship with a lonely widower takes an unexpected turn?
Who can work in a house that's overrun by contractors and carpenters? Not Madeleine Houser, a successful novelist who gladly accepts the help of her octogenarian friend, Ginny, to arrange for a temporary office in the charming bed and breakfast owned by Ginny's friend, Arthur. Maddie's never met the innkeeper - but a friendship grows between them as Maddie and Arthur leave messages for each other each day. To Maddie's alternate delight and chagrin, she seems to be falling for the inn's owner - a man who's likely many years her senior - and who she's never even met.
Arthur Tyler is a college professor who lost his young wife to cancer. Together they ran the bed and breakfast where Art lives, but without his wife, the house is missing warmth and cheer. He jumps at the chance to have author Madeleine Houser use the space that was once filled with guests. He, too, begins to enjoy the daily exchanges with Maddie, but a series of misunderstandings lead him to believe she's far from being a prospective date---even if he were ready to date again, which he's not.
When Maddie and Art finally meet and discover one another's identity, sparks fly. Even so, they each have obstacles to overcome in order for this winter romance to blossom."

My review:  One of the good things about a novella is that I can read the whole book in one sitting.  Not wanting to put this book down, I did just that.  There were some pretty funny twists and turns in this book, and I never felt like the story was rushed.  Although this was a very predictable story, the plot was unusual and fun.  I could have kept reading, but at the same time I felt like the author did a great job developing her story in so few pages.  This is a novella that I can give five stars!  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Echoes of Mercy

Book description:  "Caroline Lang goes undercover in the Sinclair, Kansas, Dinsmore Chocolate Factory, driven by the desire to spare children the drudgery of laboring long hours rather than pursuing an education. She believes that this mission is God's calling for her life. Oliver Dinsmore is proud of his factory's age-level for employment. Offering youngsters an opportunity to earn a wage, stay off the streets, and learn a skill that will benefit them in adulthood solves many of society's problems, in his own opinion. When Caroline and Oliver-who are both hiding their true identities-cross paths, they are forced to examine one another's point of view. Can either of them emerge triumphant in this battle of wills when the truth is revealed?"

My review: Echoes of Mercy is another book that kept me up reading late at night.  The author, Kim Vogel Sawyer, weaves an intriguing tale that keeps the reader guessing.  I felt like I was living the story right along with Carrie and Oliver.  There was plenty of romance and mystery, and the sub-plots did not detract from the rest of the story.  The characters were real, and I was drawn into their lives as I read.  I always appreciate christian novels that give a clear presentation of some aspect of the christian life.  This book did exactly that. Faith and prayer were a vital aspect of this story.  I enjoy reading books by this author and I think that Echoes of Mercy is one of my favorites.  I look forward to a sequel if the author chooses to write one.  I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.