Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Promises She Keeps

What are The Promises She Keeps? This novel by Erin Healy was good. It peeked my interest. I am now thinking about the symbolism I may have missed in the first reading. All positives, in my mind, as I finish a satisfying read.

This story revolves around the question of life and the source that powers that force. Chase, a young man with autism, draws his visions of that force. His representations are pictures of trees and his verbal descriptions are of potent Biblical verbage, delivered matter of factly, as a person with autism would deliver it. Porta, an aged curator of art, looks for life in mystic forces and the quest for immortality. Promise, a budding vocal talent with cystic fibrosis, aims to prolong her life through fame. In the end, the characters find life in love and sacrifice.

I recommend The Promises She Keeps. It was a satisfying drama with compelling characterization. I especially liked reading about Chase. I believe the author portrayed his autism very realistically. It was in his nature, due to the autism, to take things very literally, to not let emotion cloud his reasoning, and to approach people with the innocence of a child. We could all benefit from a little more of that innocence and deliberateness about delivering the truth as we know it.

I would like to thank for providing me with this complimentary copy of The Promises She Keeps by Erin Healy. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Callie by Dave Sargent

Dave and Pat Sargent author many books located in my children's elementary school library, and by many, I mean more than 50. I never really knew anything about these authors, but after Dave Sargent visited my son's school, he came home with Callie, the story of Mr. Sargent's grandmother. Wow. This was the most engaging non-fiction for children that I have ever read. This story, while told in very kid-friendly language, let the reader feel the trials and harsh realities of early Colonial living. I appreciated that. Kids appreciate that. This biography related the meat of 70 years of her life and maintained the reader's interest throughout. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I originally picked up Forever... by Jude Deveraux because it appeared suspensful and paranormal. However, it turned out not to be quite what I expected. The story is about a man who, in trying to discover what caused his parent's disappearance, employes a virgin who is able to "see" the future and past in a magical mirror. Along the way, both discover that they have similarities in their orphaned childhoods and they develop a relationship that goes beyond professional. Joining them later is the long lost father and sister who come in and help save the town from a coven of witches, and then they all end up one big happy family.
Overall, it took me a while to get through this book because the suspense factor just wasn't there. The storyline was mediocre, but I did appreciate the twist on the classic fairy tale. And just when the story began to climax, the author jumped "one year later..." and cut off the suspense. So, although I did think it worth finishing, I am not in a hurry to recommend it as a great read. It was just okay.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This book was mesmerizing. Thoroughly enjoyable read. Fans of Stephenie Meyer will enjoy this book if they are looking for something similar. If I had read this book before I read the Twilight series, I would have awarded it 5 stars. However, I could only give it 4 stars due to the glaring similarities with the Twilight story. Grace and Bella are strong female characters who are rescuing their true loves from "Hell." Grace and Bella essentially parent themselves and they both turn to cooking for comfort. I could go on. My final critique, however, will have to be about the quiche scene with Isabella. Too corny and far from the established characterization of Sam and Grace. Yet, overall, a dreamy book to curl up with.

I very much enjoyed reading Tamar. It was a sophisticated read for a young adult novel. This story reveals how the evils of Hitler's Nazi regime infected not only Germany, but many countries and even members of the Resistance.  I appreciated the authenticity of the wartime situations and I was moved by how the author was able to relate the generational effects of the tragedy of the holocaust.

Toby Alone was good, and Toby and the Secrets of the Tree was even better! With just the right amount of action, drama, and suspense, this was a feel good story from start to finish. I would recommend the novel for ages 10 and up due to some graphic fighting scenes (appealing for boys, especially) and there was even enough romance to broaden the appeal to female readers as well. I commend Francois Place for excellent translation--idioms and phrasing were very natural and appropriate.
This novel was full of mental despair. Mom was despairing over her uncommunicative husband, grandma was fretting over daughter's angst, daughter was laboring under the weight of carrying the family, father was silently brooding or despondant....and the list goes on. I read to the end thinking that there must be a happy ending, but there wasn't. The only reason I am granting two stars instead of one is the fact that the story did make me want to read to the end. Yet, the end brought naught but more of the same.

The Vigilante's Bride is a fast-paced historical western with a little faith and romance thrown in. Although it kept my interest, I am discovering that I am not a particular fan of westerns. Much of the story involved cowboys and indians, frontier cattle drives, and roping and shooting. My favorite parts of the story had to do with the budding romance, yet some of the anticipation was spoiled since the title of the book gives away the ending. Overall, I am happy to have experienced Yvonne Harris' debut into historical romance.

I love Dee Henderson's recipe for a good Christian, suspense romance. A little bit of faith and reliance on the unchanging character of God, a strong female character who can hold her own, intense crime drama, and a man of God who takes the lead in a romantic relationship.

I thoroughly enjoyed Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer. Her story had just the right amount of suspence to keep me turning the pages. The attraction between the lead characters warmed my heart and I loved the mix of English nobility and the American West. As a piece of Christian fiction, this rates up there with Dee Henderson and Kristen Heitzman. Karen Witemeyer is one of my new favorites!

My children and I love the Ranger's Apprentice series. The Rangers remind me of the Jedi of Star Wars. I appreciated how Horace was allowed to defend himself against the antagonizing bullies and how Will discovered that skills he once used for mischief are skills that are valued in a Ranger.  These themes, along with action packed adventure, make this a great story for children and adults alike.

A lovely holiday tale that explores the complexities that families of mixed religious practices face. This story reveals the common ground that is found when an Amish family reconnects with a family member that has left the Amish lifestyle. The "Plain and Simple" message is that love and forgiveness is the true meaning of Christmas.

A Man's Heart by Lori Copeland fell short of my expectations for Christian Romance. This story began with a jilted groom, continued with the death of a father and best friend, meandered along a sketchy reunited sister relationship, and stubbornly snagged along the poor communication between two people who supposedly loved each other. The only thing that kept me reading was the hope that it would get better, and while the last chapter wrapped it up neatly, it felt unrealistic and left me thinking, "That relationship is never gonna make it."
What I hope for in Christian fiction is a realistic portrayal of people living in a Christ-like way, making mistakes and overcoming obstacles, but finding the ultimate truth in their faith. This novel fell short. While the main characters voiced prayers in desperation, and recognized their need for God, they never really turned to Him. In addition, the main characters were suing each other over child custody and communicating with snide, sarcastic, and stubborn remarks throughout. And while they ended up together in the end, I never saw evidence that they had overcome this disasterous communication trait.
All in all, mildly entertaining, but I would not recommend it to my friends.

A very entertaining beginning to the series. Terri Blackstock tells a tale of small-town whodunit while weaving in authentic Christian inspiration and setting the scene for a possible future romance. I enjoyed the suspense and appreciated the fact that the answers weren't obvious. The story left me guessing until the very end and the story wants to continue without leaving me hanging. I am looking forward to what will happen next with Hanover House, Sadie and her baby brother Caleb, who were adopted by Morgan and Jonathan, and Chief Cade and his undeniable attraction to Blair, who herself is struggling with her faith and how she can be thought beautiful despite her disfigured face.
Super quick read. Evans pulls you into the emotions of his characters. I believe his portrayal of a man losing everything, the resultant despair, and his coping methods was very realistic. His encounters along the way are inspirational and they make the reader think about what is truly important in life. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christian Gifts Of Faith