Saturday, October 30, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Love’s First Bloom by Delia Parr

When Bethany House offered me this book to review, I had not heard of Delia Parr but was intrigued by the synopsis of the story. I am glad that I received this book and got the opportunity to review Ms. Parr’s work. The story was extremely well-written and was interesting in its subject matter. The story involves a young woman, Ruth, whose father is a minister. He runs a rescue ministry for New York City’s prostitutes. The story begins in 1838. One of the prostitutes he was helping is murdered and he is accused of the murder. He sends his daughter and the toddler daughter of the prostitute into hiding before he is arrested. She is to pretend to be a young widow and the mother of the child. Her biggest struggle is avoiding the reporters who are determined to find her. One of them, Jake Spence aka Asher Tripp, falls in love with her in his pursuit of the story. Many events incur and all is finally resolved satisfactorily. There were two rather odd incidents in the story that really did not blend with the story or add much to it and I’m not sure why they were included. One was when a drunk attacks Ruth because for some reason he is connecting her with his dead wife. She prevails and he apologizes the next day. The other is when a young teenager riding on a donkey manages to get Ruth all wet because he is asleep and not tending the donkey. Weird. Other than that, I like the book and enjoyed the suspense right to the end when all is explained. I also like the seamless way the faith of the main characters was woven through the story.

Monday, October 25, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

This was one of those novels you don’t want to put down. The story is about a widow trying to run her ranch and raise her two boys in a small Colorado town in the late 1800s. The daughter of a doctor, she is able to assist the town’s new doctor and a relationship develops between them. The one annoying aspect of this story was that it is apparently third in a trilogy. The author alluded to the other couples’ stories but really didn’t give the usual synopsis that authors of series usually give you to get you up to speed if you haven’t read the previous books. Ms. Alexander also alluded to other aspects of the characters’ lives throughout the book and was a little too vague and a little too far into the book before offering some explanation in my opinion. I found that slightly aggravating. However, the way the story enlightened me about doctors and the practice of medicine in that time period was fascinating and I am very pleased that Bethany House offered me a copy of this book to review. Also very pleasing about this book was the genuine Christianity portrayed in many of the characters. It was just a natural part of the story and not at all forced. These characters had a genuine relationship with their Savior and they lived their faith. So many so-called Christian fiction books seem to have the “Christian” part added as an afterthought, but not this one. It is just a natural part of the characters’ lives. That is so refreshing! I especially liked the way the author handled the issue of death and dying and the afterlife. It was very tastefully done and also very enlightening. This books leaves you with a warm cozy feeling and a desire to cherish time with your loved ones. I can’t wait to find the first two books of this trilogy and hopefully have two more cozy reading experiences. I’m looking forward to future works by this author who has become the newest addition to my “favorite authors” list.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Masquerade by Nancy Moser

This book kept me interested right up to the last line. That being said, however, I can’t really say I liked the book when all is said and done. It just isn’t believable in so many places in the story and also the references to God and prayer seem contrived and maybe even salted in after the fact.
The story revolves around a titled English girl, Lottie, and her ladies maid, Dora, who grew up together and were friends. When the Lottie’s parents arrange a marriage for her with a rich gentleman in the States, she and Dora are sent to New York to meet him and his family. Once they leave the ancestral home they travel as friends rather than as lady and lady’s maid. Along the journey Lottie comes up with the brilliant idea to switch places so she can go out into the world on her own and find true love and Dora can improve her station in life by pretending to be Lottie and marrying Lottie’s intended husband. That’s all good but Dora falls in love with a handsome doctor on the boat. As they each go through crisis after crisis after arriving in New York, they each finally find their true love. The trouble is, I couldn’t really figure out how they got to that point. When the doctor locates Dora in New York and finds out what she is up to he doesn’t seem too impressed with her at that point. The author never explains how Dora suddenly knows that he loves her and is the only one for her blah, blah, blah. By the same token, Lottie, who has seemingly only know Sven for 3 or 4 days and most of that time thought he was married to someone else and didn’t even really give him much consideration suddenly realizes he is her one true love and they get engaged. Huh?? It was like the author got tired of writing the book and decided to bring everything to a happy conclusion all of a sudden and jumped from point A to point C, totally skipping point B. It took what could have been a great story and made it truly silly. The aloof hostile mother-in-law to be suddenly turns into a down to earth person for no apparent reason toward the end and the sister-in-law to be turns from the wicked witch of the west to the wonderful friend and sister and then for no apparent reason back to the wicked witch. Huh?? I really wanted to like this book but I’m still going over it in my mind wondering how something with so much promise turned dud in the last couple of chapters. Bethany House sent me a copy of this book to review and I was glad for opportunity. It is very rare that one of their books disappoints.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This is what Christian fiction is all about!

IN EVERY HEARTBEAT by Kim Vogel Sawyer

When I received this book from Bethany House to review, I expected an enjoyable read. What I didn’t expect was how gripping and engaging the story is. The story is about three orphans, friends, who are given the opportunity to go to college. The year is 1914. They all have their “baggage” from being orphans and all are looking for love and acceptance in some form or another. Pete wants to be a minister. Libby wants to be a writer and Bennett just wants to be the big man on campus. As they work through their wants and needs they each find unexpected twists and turns along the way and each find some closure to the issues that have plagued them. Libby find a relationship with God and this opens the way for her and her best friend Pete to share some common goals. This is what Christian fiction ought to be. There is plenty of action and suspense and logical resolution of very real feelings and problems. There are even some humorous moments. I felt almost as if Kim Vogel Sawyer was putting herself into the character Libby and the writer Libby was becoming was the writer Kim Vogel Sawyer already is. Maybe just fanciful on my part but I felt like the character traits that Libby developed as her relationship with God grew were ones already belonging to Ms. Sawyer. This story has all the elements required to keep you glued to the pages to the very end and then leave you wanting more.