Thursday, September 20, 2012
September 18, 2012
From the time she was a child Meg has been promised a trip to Florence, Italy. She's held on to that promise and longed for the day she can find the setting for a work of art she remembers from her grandmother's house. When her grandmother passes away Meg is dependent on her somewhat absent father to take her to the city of her dreams. With one excuse after another her plans for Florence seem to be on a permanent hold.
Under mysterious circumstances Meg's father finally books the trip to Italy. She gets a ticket by mail and has hours before she leaves. Upon arriving in Italy her father is nowhere to be found. With no idea where to go or what to do Meg calls her Florence contacts. As an editor Meg has been reading the work of Sofia Borelli who is an aspiring memoir writer. Sofia graciously opens her home to Meg and a truly mesmerizing adventure begins.
Meg explores Florence with Sofia by her side and sees the Florence of old. Sofia claims to be the last surviving member of the Medici family. She also claims that a former Medici princess, Nora, communicates with her through some of the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. Meg isn't sure what to believe but she's seeing Florence through the eyes of Sofia and Nora and it's changing everything.
It is no secret that Meissner is in my top 5 favorite authors. Her last book was sorely lacking so I picked up The Girl in the Glass with mixture of trepidation and hope. I'm delighted to report that this book does not disappoint. Meissner is back. This is an intricately written book that you will find yourself wanting to savor. I found myself wanting to go back to Florence with book in hand and to explore Sofia's way.
Meg is a sweet and simple character. She is not lacking in depth, she is simply who she is. Sofia is delightful in a hundred different ways. There is just a hint of romance as Meg and Sofia's neighbor, a long-time client of Meg's, begin to spend more time together. Beyond that the story draws you in like only Susan Meissner can.
There were a few parts I found myself skimming as the details seemed to overwhelm the page. Intricate details on art pieces are not really my thing. While this sits solidly in the middle as far as favorite Meissner books goes I thoroughly enjoyed it. You'll find yourself transported and aching to hop a plane for Florence. If you can't do that I suggest you brew an espresso, put a scarf on, play some classical music and dive into this work of art.
My thanks to Waterbrook Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Fiction, Historical, Romance
Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa.
As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them?
Combining excellent research and attention to detail with a flair for romance, Sarah Sundin brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing, and true love.
I have read Sundin before and have enjoyed her books. She writes with heart and I have always appreciated how she handles historical matter. In this book she spent the first half of the book setting the story up and going a bit overboard with details. We all knew Mellie would end up overseas, it just took her awhile to get there.
In general I found the characters in this book to be laughable, I seriously did laugh out loud a couple times. Mellie and Tom are written as extremely immature, almost simple, people. I kept thinking they didn't need each other they needed some serious counseling to deal with their issues. The writing is very elementary, I kept checking to see if I was reading a young adult book. To say the storyline was contrived would be putting it mildly. I usually can see past that if the characters save it, in this case they did not. The story in general was a good idea but the way it was written did not do the story line justice.
I'm sorry to say I was extremely disappointed in this book and will not be looking to read the next one in the series.
My thanks to Revell Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
A Heart Revealed
Fiction, Historical, Romance
Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston as a battered woman, escaping the husband who scarred her beautiful face. The physical and emotional wounds have faded with time, and her life is finally full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity's handsome and charming brother, Sean O'Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she's ever known?
The Great Depression is still raging and jobs are at a premium. When Sean denies the romantic advances of a young girl at work he suddenly finds himself working for Emma Malloy. Sean has sworn off women and wants nothing to do with them in a romantic sense. Sean is also dealing with deep rage and a past of his own. he and Emma are the best of friends and he never expected to see her any other way. Working side by side with her everyday he finds himself more and more drawn to her. Before he even realizes it he is head over heals with Emma Malloy, a married woman.
Emma is a woman of great integrity and grace. She runs her store with a tight ship and loves the O'Connor family deeply. Her face may be healed but her past is anything but. She still wears the wedding ring that her husband put on her finger 10 years ago. He was abusive and abandoned her but she still considers herself married to him. She loves Sean like a brother but when that love turns into something deeper she's terrified. Running from her own past and dealing with her wounds she desperately tries to avoid Sean.
Will they find away to be together in a matter that is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord?
Lessman is an excellent writer. I always enjoy her books and the O'Connor family feels like family. She writes with depth, historical accuracy, and passion. Some readers may find the passionate side of things to be a bit much for Christian fiction. I'm not convinced that she needs to be as detailed as she is to round out her story. In some cases it seems to distract from an excellent story line.
Both Emma and Sean are wonderful well thought out characters. I did find myself a bit impatient with Emma as she seemed to dwell and mire in her past. I do believe that is extremely true to real life at times but as a reader I wanted her to get there sooner.
Of course throughout the book we are brought to date on characters from former books and we continue to see the O'Connor family grow.
Filled with suspense, romance, and intrigue you'll find yourself up late at night to finish this one. I promise!
My thanks to Revell Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Sergeant Lance Corporal Bekah Shaw joined the United States Marine reserves to help support herself and her son. On a peacekeeping mission to Somalia, Bekah and her team meet Rageh Daud, a man determined to seek revenge on the terrorists who killed his wife and son. To defeat the terrorists and bring peace to the region, Bekah and her team must convince Daud that they are on the same side.
Bekah is a single mom who just wants to provide for her son. Little did she know she would be thrust into the heart of war torn areas on a number of deployments. She has trouble at home with her ex and trouble overseas from terrorist.
Rageh was content to live with his little family in Somalia. When a terrorist attack tears his family apart he determines to avenge his loved ones whatever the cost. Intent on revenge he goes through the countryside gathering up his own army from displaced people groups. He has one thought in mind until an orphaned little boy opens his eyes.
Bekah and Rageh's lives will intersect in war torn Somalia and neither one will be the same again.
I have always enjoyed Odom's novels. He's a good author that writes with detail and intrigue. Deployed has much detail and intrigue but it lacks a certain gripping factor. I found myself putting it down often out of boredom and because I was lost in the details. Bekah and Ragehs' stories are told separately and I found them both a little hard to follow. Rageh's character was heart-breaking but I had to dig deep to find that part of him. Bekah comes across as rather flat. Her mother's heart is sweet but there is something about her that doesn't read very true.
I found the war action a bit hard to follow but it was well written. Odom's detailed writing serves him well in that area. This is the first book in the series and I'm interested to see where book 2 might take the reader. All in all this is a decent read. Odom doesn't fully grab a win but this certainly isn't a fail. Be ready to concentrate to fully follow the storyline and I think you'll be glad you did.
My thanks to Tyndale Publishing House for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Man in the Blue Moon
Tyndale House Publishing
"He's a gambler at best. A con artist at worst," her aunt had said of the handlebar-mustached man who snatched Ella Wallace away from her dreams of studying art in France. Eighteen years later, that man has disappeared, leaving Ella alone and struggling to support her three sons. While the world is embroiled in World War I, Ella fights her own personal battle to keep the mystical Florida land that has been in her family for generations from the hands of an unscrupulous banker. When a mysterious man arrives at Ella's door in an unconventional way, he convinces her he can help her avoid foreclosure, and a tenuous trust begins. But as the fight for Ella's land intensifies, it becomes evident that things are not as they appear. Hypocrisy and murder soon shake the coastal town of Apalachicola and jeopardize Ella's family
Ella's husband Harlan Wallace has run out on his family pursuing the lure of heroin leaving his wife alone to provide for herself and their 3 boys. Not only did he run out and leave his family but he left a substantial amount of debt. Ella is desperate to hold on to her property and her family while the town banker, Clive Gillespie, is doing his best to get his hands on her land. Clive, of course, has his own greedy nasty reason for trying to cast a single mother and her children out of their home.
As Ella is reaching the end of her rope a mysterious package from Blue Moon clock company is waiting for her at the docks. All she has to do is pay the freight and what she thinks is a grandfather clock will be hers. Ella makes a plan to sell the clock to help pay off her husband debts to the bank.
Ella and her sons are shocked to discover a man inside the crate! The man is no ordinary man. Claiming to be a relation to Ella's husband he has healing powers and a secret.
As Ella and the mystery man and her boys fight to keep her land the battle rages a murder takes place that will forever change the town of Dead Lakes.
I'll be completely honest, I had a very hard time getting into this book. I got about halfway and almost quit. Morris writes with a rawness that I found almost uncomfortable at times. Ella is an extremely unlikeable character and the stranger is just plain odd. However, there was just enough intrigue to keep me pressing on. The fact that this is losely based on actual events also kept me moving forward.
This book is not overtly Christian by any means. Ella never mentions God or brings him into her life in any applicable way. Thanks to that you will find non of the hokey forced salvation messages that are in so many Christian fiction books. However, I definitely found the God thread missing throughout.
While I'm not sorry I hung on through the book I can't say that this will be finding a place on my shelves of favorite books. Morris writes with color and skill but it gets quite tedious at times. Although the story had everything everything from romance, to heartbreak, to murder, scandal, hope, trust, desperation, and survival it failed to completely win me over.
My thanks to Tyndale Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Fiction, Romance, Historical
On a bitter December day in 1785, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of master blacksmith Liege Lee in York, Pennsylvania. Just months from becoming a master blacksmith himself, Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship and move west. But Liege soon discovers that Silas is a prodigious worker and craftsman and endeavors to keep him in Lancaster. Silas becomes interested in both of Liege's daughters, the gentle and faith-filled Eden and the clever and high-spirited Elspeth. When he chooses one, will the other's jealousy destroy their love?
In this sweeping family saga set in western Pennsylvania, one man's choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. "Love's Reckoning" is the first entry in The Ballantyne Legacy, a rich, multi-layered historical quartet from talented writer Laura Frantz, beginning in the late 1700s and following the Ballantyne family through the end of the Civil War.
This book was excellent. I was very quickly swept into the saga. Frantz does an excellent job of developing characters that you love and hate. Eden and Silas's romance is sweet and intriguing. They meet on the stairs and around quiet corners while trying to hide their feelings from Eden's family. Eden's sister Elspeth is reprehensible and a character you'll dislike immediately. My only complaint was it was very obvious that initially things were not going to work out for Silas and Eden. I also personally despise when books jump 7 years with no warning. Other than that I highly recommend this book and loved it. It's a keeper and I look forward to the rest of the series!
I received this book free in exchange for my honest review. Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.