Monday, May 23, 2011

The Lightkeeper's Ball

The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble

First of all I have to say that the cover of this book is absolutely amazing. I know you can't judge a book by it's cover but I couldn't help but find myself staring at the beautiful color and dress. I know, I know, that has nothing to do with the book.

Olivia Stewart is an heiress and from the famed Four Hundred (those considered the wealthiest and most distinguished in America). However, not all is well in paradise. Her father has died and her once engaged sister has been found dead as well. The family' security rests in Olivia marrying well. Olivia wants to find out what happen to her sister Eleanor. She travels to Mercy Falls, California to find out what really happened. Travel under an old family title she "sneaks" into Mercy Falls and begins her investigation of Eleanor's former fiance Harrison Bennett.

From the beginning Olivia's visit is met with peril. She's thrown overboard before even landing. Harrison rescues her...or did he push her overboard in the first place? Harrison and Olivia's paths continue to cross and Olivia begins to think he may not be the man she originally thought him to be. A plane crash, an attack, and more keep Olivia guessing throughout the whole book.

As always Coble does an excellent job of waving mystery and intrigue into beautiful period stories. I have always loved her depth of historical references and her characters are charming. I will admit I was a bit lost in this book. It's the third in a series but I've read the one previous to this and I was still lost. It's a bit confusing for the reader to have Olivia have a different name in Mercy Falls. I also felt the whole incognito thing to be extremely far fetched. If you can get beyond that, and try to follow the names, you'll find a good read.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Daughter's Walk

The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

Absolutely and totally fascinating!

In 1896 Helga Etsby accepted a wager from the fashion industry to walk from Spokane, Washington to New York City. Her prize: $10,000 for doing the walk within 7 months while wearing the new shorter hemline skirts. She brought her 18 year old daughter, Clara, along and the two of them start on a journey with the hope that they could save the family farm. That is where the story begins and by no means is it where it ends.

A non-fiction story written with fiction elements I found myself completely captivated. Let's be honest, who in their right mind thinks it's a good idea to walk 3500 miles especially in a time where much of the western US was still very much frontier. Crazy!  The story is told by Clara and you will find yourself loving her, hating her, angry with her, crying for her, and immersed with her.This is one of those books that while you want to turn the pages quickly to see what happens you also want to savor each word, paragraph, and moment.

When the two women return home from their walk everything has changed. Life takes an interesting twist and Clara sets out on her own. Just when I think I've read it all in the story world this woman decides to try her hand at trapping animals for fur. Kirkpatrick is a master storyteller and she weaves this tale with finesse. Rich with period history and research about the actual Etsby family and Clara herself this story will amaze you. Prepare to dive in and not come out until you put the book down. Believe me, it will be a trip worth taking!

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Freedom's Stand

Freedom’s Stand by J.M. Windle
Review by: Melissa J. MacDonald
Genre: fiction
Publisher: Tyndale
Date: June 2011

Jamil was a jihadist until he met Jesus Christ. He turned his life around and went  from a life of violence to being a peace lover. In Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Jamil becomes a itinerant health worker trying to help those most impoverished. However, not all believe a former jihadist terrorist would turn into a caring healer and he finds himself in danger. Suspicion runs rampant in Afghanistan and mixed with traditions that date back thousands of years it’s a very delicate tightrope to walk.

New Hope relief worker Amy Mallory returns to Afghanistan after being home in the States to find her organization in what she regards as disarray. She has broken the cardinal rule of any relief worker she has started to form relationships with the people. No longer simply operating by systems  Amy fears for the dependents under her care as well as for her assistant Jamil.

In Kabul, contractor security expert Steve Wilson tries to protect his assignment while also keep the peace inside the city as the upcoming elections divides and frightens the residents. Rioting and officialdom corruption has made the capital a dangerous place for a Special Forces soldier, but more so for an American female with little to no protection. He’s looking for something, anything, that will give meaning to his life.

This book kept me up at nights! I have read extensively about the culture of Afghanistan and its’ neighbors and I found this fiction look at the politics and the people to be fascinating. From my readings I can say I found Windle to be extremely accurate, knowledgeable, and profound. The depth with which she describes the complex society is immense. This book is loaded with action and yet has a soft side that will appeal to both men and women alike. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

Rating: pg-13 for adult content and graphic descriptions 

You can watch the video teaser for Freedom's Stand on YOUTUBE. 

Lilies in the Moonlight

Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman
Review by: Melissa J. MacDonald
Genre: historical fiction
Publisher: Multnomah
Date: 2011

Set in the roaring twenties with a crazy daring main character this book grabbed my attention from the beginning. Always a sucker for historical aspects I loved that fun-loving Lilly Margolis was a door to door salesman who basically fails in the first week of her job. Lilly has run just about as far away from her very strict, religious mama as she can and she finds herself in Florida. She is a true flapper girl who enjoys parties, men, and pushing limits. Unfortunately, one crazy night leads to a morning of waking up in an almost stranger’s yard with a sprained ankle. Completely destitute Lilly is taken in by Betty Ruth Burnside and her reluctant son Cullen.

Cullen Burnside has his own issues to deal with. Disfigured in the war and wealthy with no sense of purpose he is valiantly caring for his forgetful mother. He’s also nursing his own wounds. He finds Lilly to be annoying, confusing, and obnoxious. When he makes the decision to return Lilly to her mother up north a journey begins that will keep you guessing and chuckling at every turn.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing of all in this book is the transformation that happens in both Lilly and Cullen. You truly see Lilly have an encounter with Jesus and her life changes as a result. Cullen too grows and changes in the most unique ways.

I found this book to be engrossing. I loved the era, I loved the baseball aspect (yep, you’ll have to read to find that out), I thought Betty Ruth was precious, and I loved how Jesus’ transforming work was evident throughout. You’ll love this one!

Rating: pg-13 for adult content
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