Friday, November 18, 2011

Unexpected Dismounts

Unexpected Dismounts by Nancy Rue
Review by: Melissa J. MacDonald
Genre: historical fiction
Publisher: David C Cook
Date: 2011

This is the second book in the Reluctant Prophet series. Allison Chamberlain is a prophet who receives
nudges from God. Her life has already made a 180 as she has followed the nudges and gone where God has sent her.

Taking place in St. Augustine, Florida Allison does battle on the streets to reform prostitutes and drug addicts and to show them the love of Jesus.  She is also in the process of adopting Desmond who is a precocious 12 year old boy who grew up on the streets. The adoption should be a for sure thing but trouble seems to follow Allison and she suddenly finds herself having to fight in court for her son. In the midst of all that she’s doing battle for her sisters at The Sacrament House and dealing with the rape of a recovering prostitute.

Motorcycle rides, hanging with the HOGS, prostitutes, court battles, endearing characters, and honest pain makes this book truly captivating. When you add in the handsome manly Chief with whom Allison has a magnetic attraction to I promise you’ll stay up late reading this one.

This book absolutely captured me. I was skeptical when I started reading about a prophet. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it or even be able to relate to it. However, I was mistaken. I found myself relating to Allison’s love for people in a very real way. I don’t ride a Harley but I love people and feel their pain deeply. If you’ve ever hurt for someone else, been angry at the injustice in the world, or ask God “why?” than you will relate to this book. Hats off to Nancy Rue for writing a deep, thought-provoking, and entertaining story.

Rated: PG-13

Thank you to David C Cook for providing me a copy of this book.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Souther Fried Sushi

Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola
Reviewed by Melissa J. MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc
Date: 2011

Shiloh Jacobs is loving her life! She’s an up and coming writer with the Associated Press. She’s living in Tokyo, Japan, a city that has become home to her. She has entertaining friends and it seems the world is her oyster. Her life takes a drastic turn when she learns of her distant mother’s death in Virginia. She suddenly finds herself immersed in a culture that is so foreign she can barely keep up. She’s overwhelmed by the people, the language, the food, and the lifestyle.

When Shiloh wings her way to Virginia she would never have dreamed, in her worst nightmare, that she wouldn’t be returning to Tokyo. She was going to attend her mother’s funeral and then head right back to her demanding job, her handsome fiancĂ©, and the culture she knows best. One poor decision finds her jobless, a series of poor decision finds her penniless, a bad choice in men finds her single, and a dysfunctional childhood finds her basically without friends. In short, she hits even further than the bottom.

To her surprise at the bottom she finds new friends who love her unconditionally and who have a faith she’s never encountered before. She also learns that the somewhat abusive mother of her childhood had drastically changed her life for the better. As she continues to learn more about the mom she didn’t know and come face to face with people who live out their faith in word and deed she begins to ask questions and seek the God of her friends. What she finds will warm your heart, surprise you, and touch your emotions.

LOVE! I loved this book. For a girl who typically prefers historical novels I was engrossed in this contemporary read immediately. Spinola writes with beautiful color and detail. You will find yourself transported to Japan and you’ll feel the culture shock that Shiloh feels upon her entry to Virginia. Staunton, VA is the setting and I had to laugh because I lived in that town for 3 years in my early teens. Our whole family moved from Wisconsin to Virginia and believe me we experienced the culture shock of the south. I could taste the food, hear the accents, and see the sights. For me that made this already special book even that much more special and real.

Whether you’re from Japan, Virginia, or Oregon you will love this book. It has all the components of a great book and they all come together to make a very special novel. Props to Spinola, she’s earned a new fan!

Rated PG-13 for adult content
Thanks to Babour Publishing for providing this book in exchange for my review!

The Muir House

The Muir House by Mary DeMuth
Reviewed by Melissa J. MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Zondervan
Date: 2011

The thing about secrets is they don’t provide any clarity. They keep things murky, give reason for mistaken assumptions, and can hold you hostage. Willa Muir understands the damage of secrets better than anyone. She desires to move past her past but it proves to be more challenging then she originally thought. She’s met the man of her dreams and with his proposal of marriage she knows she must first find answers to her past so she can move forward. Finding answers means she must leave the Pacific Northwest and head “home” to Texas.

The Muir House is the home Willa grew up in. During her growing up years it was a funeral home, now it is being remodeled to become a bed and breakfast. It is an iconic center point for the little town of Rockwall, Texas. Snatches of memories and fleeting dreams make up the sum total of a missing year of her childhood. Willa’s dying mother, the house’s caretaker, and town records provide confusing partial answers and even the Muir House hides its own share of secrets.

In Texas Willa faces considerable opposition as she searches for answers. An old flame may threaten her relationship with her distant boyfriend/almost fiancé. Turbulent emotions and ever developing secrets will keep you guessing in this book. DeMuth writes with rare transparency and she dives into troubling subjects head on. Willa is a wonderful mixture of strong, independent, lonely, and hurting. The depth of her character is stunning.

This was not one of my favorite books. It is written like a secret and with that comes a bit of a cold feeling. It’s not a warm and cozy book and the characters are not either. That makes it hard to relate and to really want to dig in and immerse yourself. DeMuth is an excellent storyteller and the conclusion of the book is really quite beautiful. If you wrap yourself in a warm blanket you may be able to ward off the chill of the initial start of the book and be able to persevere to the warmer ending.

Rated PG-13 for adult content

Thank you to Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my review.

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