Monday, March 25, 2013

The Moment Between by Nicole Baart

From the publisher: "Abigail Bennett was completely in control of her life until tragedy pushed her to the brink of something she’s never experienced: Obsession. Now she’s given up everything she’s ever worked for to chase down the object of that obsession. His name is Tyler Kamp. As Abigail follows him across the border into Canada, her journey is awash in memories of family and childhood, especially those of her younger sister Hailey. Even as Abigail races into her future, her past pulls her back. Only when she is brought to the edge of her obsession will she be able to come to terms with the tragedy that ignited it."

The story had three story lines running through it.  One was told in first person by Abigail after dealing with a tragedy.  The other two are told in third person.  The other goes back to the past and explains the family dynamics and especially the relationship between Abigail and her sister Hailey.  The third is present tense and what Abigail does as she follows Tyler to Canada.

Baart did a good job of making the reader feel the emotions of the story.  The story has a sad undercurrent and you definitely feel that as a reader.  You are drawn into Abigail's world and the world of the Canadian winery.  

The conclusion of the book was very beautiful.  Suicide is not an easy topic but Nicole Baart handled it with such grace and beauty.  One story is not going to encompass all suicide situations but I felt that as an author Baart gave the reader hope for painful situations that do not have an easy answer.  

I am thankful for this book and Nicole Baart's work and hope others will find comfort in it as well.  

I received this book free from Tyndale in exchange for my review.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Heiress at Winterwood by Sarah Ladd

From the publisher: "Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.
Darbury, England, 1814
Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father—a sea captain she’s never met.
When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting to her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.
Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she’s forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.
Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.
Both must learn to accept God’s sovereignty and relinquish control so they can grasp the future He has for planned for them."
Amelia and Graham were both very likable characters.  Immediately you felt attached to them and their situation.  Amelia might have pride, but don't we all?  She struggles with believing in God when things go wrong, but haven't each of us?  It was easy to understand Amelia and her struggles as well as admire her as she tried to do what was best.
Graham is a strong character who learns that his strength isn't the only thing that matters.  He has to learn to rely on God.  I appreciated when Graham admitted at one point that he had not started the journey with prayer but  now he would continue it with prayer.  I think that readers will be able to relate to that.
Ladd did a good job of introducing some mystery and intrigue in the book.  She was able to do this in a way that made me want to read faster and faster to figure out what happened.  Yet, I also didn't want to miss any details.  
The romance was sweet and not sappy or overwhelming.  Ladd did a good job with building up the romance as they got to know each other's characters.  
I would recommend this book. I cannot wait to read more from Sarah Ladd!
I received this book free from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate

From the publisher: "At thirty-four, congressional staffer Mallory Hale is about to embark on an adventure completely off the map. After a whirlwind romance, she is hopelessly in love with two men--fortunately, they're related. Daniel Everson and his little boy, Nick, are a package deal, and Mallory suddenly can't imagine her future without them.

Mallory couldn't be more shocked when Daniel asks her to marry him, move to Texas, and form a family with him and motherless Nick. The idea is both thrilling and terrifying. 

Mallory takes a leap of faith and begins a sweet, mishap-filled journey into ranch living, Moses Lake society, and a marriage that at times reminds her of the mail-order-bride stories. But despite the wild adventure of her new life, she discovers secrets and questions beneath her rosy new life. Can she find answers on Firefly Island, a little chunk of property just off the lakeshore, where mysterious lights glisten at night?"

The beginning of the book, or most of the book, is about Mallory adjusting to being a wife and mother.  The stories are sweet and it is easy to relate to the characters.  

It was slow paced however.  I didn't mind this at first but it tended to drag on after a while, with little hints on mystery, supernatural, and bits of God.  The book seemed unbalanced .  The majority of the book was about family and adjusting and then in the last part of the book it became more about a scandal and murder, etc.  And then suddenly...the book ends.  It seemed that neither the fully adjustment of family life, nor the murder mystery was resolved.  The reader is left to wonder if Mallory and Daniel will stay at Moses Lake under Jack West, or if Jack will kick them off because of their involvement in what happened (I don't want to give away too many details.)  

The mentions of the characters forming relationships with God was basically zero.  They attended church and in the end Mallory talks about how only God would orchestrate everything--but you don't see any of the characters really forming a real relationship.

I have never read anything by Lisa Wingate before and I honestly wasn't impressed.

I received my book free from Bethany House for my honest review.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wishing on Willows Book Giveaway!

I am so excited to announce that I have a book to give away!  And not just any book but....

Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert!  You can read my review here.

This is an ARC copy.

To enter leave a comment below.  This will get you one entry to win the book.
If you follow my blog I will add five more entries for you into the drawing.

The giveaway will end March 17th.

Also, if you are on facebook, mark your calendars for the Wishing on Willows Extravaganza from 6-7 pm CST on March 19th! Katie Ganshert will be video chatting with readers, giving away 6 prize packages, and there will be guest appearances form Becky Wade and Courtney Walsh!

Friday, March 1, 2013

So Shines the Night by Tracy Higley

From the publisher: On an island teetering at the brink of anarchy, Daria finds hope among people of The Way.
She escaped a past of danger and found respite in beautiful Ephesus, a trading center on the Aegean coast, serving as tutor to Lucas, the wealthy merchant who rescued her.
But the darkness she fled has caught up with her.
The high priests of Artemis once controlled the city, but a group of sorcerers are gaining power. And a strange group who call themselves followers of The Way further threaten the equilibrium. As Daria investigates Lucas’s exploits into the darker side of the city, her life is endangered, and she takes refuge in the strange group of believers. She’s drawn to Paul and his friends, even as she wrestles with their teachings.
When authorities imprison Lucas for a brutal crime, Daria wonders if even Paul’s God can save him. Then she uncovers a shocking secret that could change everything—Lucas’s fate, her position in his household, and the outcome of the tension between pagans and Christians. But only if she survives long enough to divulge what she knows.
This is the third book in Higley's wonder of the world series.  And so far this one has been the best.  
Higley did a great job with the details of Ephesus.  Through her research and travels to the city you could feel where things were located and could picture the character's walking through city.  The details will make readers interested in history and the layout of the cities.
I loved how Higley wrote the Biblical characters into the story.  She had major Biblical characters like Paul, but then she also brought into the story some characters like Alexander and Demetrius that Paul talks about in his letters.  I enjoy reading Biblical fiction because I like seeing the character's fleshed out in a way I had not previously thought of them.
In this book there is a lot of darkness.  Spiritual darkness pervades the book, but this was accurate to the time in Ephesus.  Higley does a great job with portraying the spiritual darkness, and the struggle without making the book depressing.  It was thrilling when she wrote about God's light and presence with the people of the Way.  As a Christian I felt joy in knowing that this is not just fiction but reality.  God is stronger than the darkness.  

And I loved, loved having John do the prologue and epilogue and the references to Revelation.  That was really beautiful and well done.
I would recommend this book to others.
I received this book free form in exchange for my honest review.