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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lydia Bennet's Story...Review

About the book:
In Lydia Bennet's Story we are taken back to Jane Austen's most beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, to a Regency world seen through Lydia's eyes where pleasure and marriage are the only pursuits. Lydia's dream of following the regiment to the fashionable resort of Brighton comes true, she is soon the darling of all the officers and tempted not only by a handsome royal dragoon, but drawn to the irresistible charms of one already well known to her. 

But the road to matrimony is fraught with difficulties and even when she is convinced that she has met the man of her dreams, she quickly discovers that her hero is not the man she believes him to be. Before long his reputation has her running back to Hertfordshire to be reunited with Bennets, Bingleys and Darcys, meeting once again for a grand ball at Netherfield Park. Will she resolve her problems to find happiness or will the shocking truth about her husband cause the greatest scandal of all?

As I read attempted Pride and Prejudice sequels, I'm always hopeful that the latest one will be a delight. They rarely are, and this one is no exception. Lydia was never someone I really cared about as I read Pride and Prejudice. She's more the annoying gnat that keeps buzzing around your head: the one you keep slapping away. This book is simply a light peek into the life of Lydia Bennet, one of the silliest girls in all of England.

The story is told in a third-person narrative, with Lydia's first-person journal entries interspersed. The technique works here. Jane Odiwe has defined Lydia in such a way that we find out why she acts the way she does and we see some of her thought processes. Most of it is plausible. Her main issue is that she craves positive attention from her father, the man who openly favors Elizabeth, but all she ever receives is negative.

The story follows her adventure to Brighton and subsequent marriage to George Wickham. Their marriage is chronicled as is Lydia's embarrassment at her husbands infidelity, and her pleas to Elizabeth and Jane for help. Things wrap up a bit too neatly and Lydia never really suffers for her misbehavior or inappropriate antics.

A promising story that fell flat. I just wanted it to be finished.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow and not buy.  If you really want your own, you can purchase a copy here.

Read 1/09

* * 
2/5 Stars

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jubilee...Review

About the book:
At his beautiful mansion in the Hudson River Valley, the blind and brilliant musician Michael Emmanuel confronts a temptation he'd thought long vanquished. Meanwhile, in the teeming city streets of New York City, a deadly enemy from the past threatens physician Andrew Carmichael--an unlikely nemesis cloaked in a clergyman's robes. And the dauntless Vangie MacGovern meets a new calamity head-on as she struggles to save both her unborn child and her defiant eldest son.

The third and final installment of the American Anthem series by B.J. Hoff.

Dr. Andrew Carmichael, engaged to Dr. Bethany Cole, finds his practice and clientele threatened. Only desiring to help an unfortunate woman, and make the man responsible for her situation accountable, he finds his reputation tarnished by a scandal he never imagined.

Conn and Vangie MacGovern have made a new life working for Michael at Bantry Hill. Their estranged son Aidan, who was on his way to reunite with his family, dies en route to America. Vangie who, along with their infant son, nearly dies in childbirth, must find the strength to go on without her beloved first-born. Will Conn accept that Nell Grace, his eldest daughter, is an adult and capable of choosing her own love, and will he accept Paul, Michael's cousin, as the man of her choice?

Susannah and Michael, engaged to be married, must not let Michael's father divide them. Michael, under pressure to complete his American Anthem, must also convince his father that his choice to write music, over performing opera, is the right one for him.

My one regret with this story is that while the ending is appropriate and loose ends are tied up, Susannah and Michael's wedding was not included. I also think that they should have been able to continue their conversation about children, and for Michael to understand why Susannah was fearful of childbirth.

A compelling conclusion to a terrific trilogy. I was sad to see this series come to an end.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * * *

4/5 Stars

Cadence...Review

About the book:
Cadence reunites us with Andrew Carmichael, an inner city physician, and his partner in practice, Bethany Cole, one of the first female physicians in America, who share a desire to serve the poor with their healing skills and with love. As the story continues, they discover that they share more than a professional passion--they share a love for each other.

Set in late nineteenth century New York City and the surrounding Hudson River Valley, and incorporating the beginnings of American gospel music,
Cadence continues the saga of the courageous immigrants who helped build our nation, the struggles they endured, and the music they created, lived and loved by.


Cadence, book 2 in the American Anthem series, picks up where Prelude ends. I enjoyed it even more than the first one.

Dr. Andrew Carmichael wonders how he will tell Dr. Bethany Cole of his love for her, and when he does, what will her reaction be when she learns of his past.

The MacGovern family finds that America isn't quite as promising as they had anticipated. However, a chance encounter with a stallion, recently purchased by Michael Emmanuel, brings hope to the family.

Susannah and Michael realize their love for each other, but when Michael asks Susannah to perform with his orchestra, her fears keep her from saying yes. Michael's compassion for others brings the MacGovern family to Bantry Hill, providing Conn with a welcome job and the family with a home.

Through Dr. Carmichael and Dr. Cole, we also meet Maylee, a delightful young girl with a heartbreaking health condition. Andrew's best friend Sergeant Frank Donovan returns and we meet Mary Lambert, an opium-addicted woman, living in squalid circumstances, through no real fault of her own.

I loved these characters. B.J. Hoff has a remarkable way with words: her writing is quite lyrical and flows beautifully. She has taken all of these characters and intertwined their lives in such a way that is both compelling and enthralling. She has captured the essence of the time period: the hope and despair faced by early immigrants.

An easy, enjoyable read. I am anxious to finish the final book of the series.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * * *

4/5 Stars

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Red Siren...Review

About the book:
You'll be swept away by this latest historical romance by bestselling author M. L. Tyndall. Faith Westcott is a lady by day and a pirate by night. Can she garner the riches she so desperately needs before her secret is revealed? Captain Dajon Waite is determined to catch the fiery redhead who has been pillaging the Carolina coast. When Faith invites his courtship, she hopes his infatuation will shield her true identity and keep other suitors at bay. Can the love of a godly captain win her heart, or will she be forced to marry Sir Wilhelm Carteret, a man obsessed with taking her to wife?

 After her mother's death, and after her tyrant of a father marries off her eldest sister to a lecherous man who will ultimately inherit their estate, Faith Westcott turns to piracy in order to amass a fortune that will provide for her and her sisters. Early in her piracy career as the infamous Red Siren, she captures the ship belonging to Captain Dajon Waite.

Several years later, now living in colonial Carolina, Faith's father has arranged for her to marry Sir Wilhelm Carteret, a man she does not love, and a man who will do anything to win her, even plotting to eliminate his competition. It is then that Faith again runs into Captain Waite, the man her father has appointed to be guardian of Faith and her sisters. Still a pirate in secret, Faith recognizes him at once, although he doesn't recognize her. He's a captain in the navy, patrolling the Carolina coast to protect incoming ships from thieving pirates, and very much aware of the infamous Red Siren.

While it starts off a bit slow, and it's completely unrealistic, the book is also quite enthralling. After her mother's death, Faith lost her personal faith and belief in God. Dajon, his life nearly ruined after Faith captures his father's ship, has reclaimed his faith in God.

Predictably, the story follows that Faith and Dajon fall in love. But, what will happen when he discovers her secret? Will her efforts to provide for her sisters ultimately drive them away from her? Faith isn't completely likeable, but she does grow on you. Dajon is too perfect, but he too grows on you as you follow his story. You want these two to finally get together, and the arrogant Sir Wilhelm to finally get what's coming to him!

This was the first MaryLu Tyndall book I've read. The book is left open for sequels of each sister, Grace and Hope. I believe the second book follows later this year.

Thanks to First Wild Card for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about MaryLu Tyndall here. You can read the first chapter here. You can get your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * *

3/5 Stars

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Catch a Rising Star...Review

About the book:
When thirty-something Tabby Brockman has the opportunity to reclaim her role as a killed-off character on the nation's #1 daytime soap opera, she figures this must be God's reward. But back on the set, she's faced with the same hateful head writer who killed off her character in the first place, kids who drive her crazy, a stage dad who rubs her completely wrong, and and an unwanted boyfriend who can?t seem to get the message. Faced with this dizzying roller coaster of challenges, Tabby has to wonder: is she finally a star on the rise or just on the brink of another spectacular fall?

Tabby Brockman is an actress. Fired from her soap opera when the head writer, out of anger and jealousy, kills off her character, she flits from job to job always hoping for another break. When she's asked to rejoin the cast of the soap when her character makes a miraculous recovery after several years, she figures she has it made. Hilarity ensues when head writer doesn't like her, she's jealous of her on-screen rival, her mother drives her crazy and she has a crush on the father of her television children.

While Tabby is a bit of a doormat, her narration is quite funny. She can't tell the man who has a crush on her to go away, she won't stand up to her mother, and she always misreading and misunderstanding situations around her. Her two roommates add fun to the mix and what follows is laugh out loud entertaining.

Almost casually Christian, this is a fun, light-hearted chick-lit novel with nothing serious or thought-provoking about it. An easy read when you need a light diversion. Sequels follow for her two best friends.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * *

3/5 Stars

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Multiple Blessings...Review

About the book:
Eight children in three years? Impossible!

Kate and Jon Gosselin have learned that, through God, all things are possible—though sometimes slightly improbable.

Just three years after giving birth to twin daughters, Kate and Jon learned they were pregnant again—with sextuplets. In
Multiple Blessings, Kate candidly chronicles the emotional and exhausting challenges she and Jon faced from the time the babies were conceived through the first two years of their lives.

This amazing story of faith provides a heartening lesson in what it means to trust the faithful hand of God to provide the strength and courage to make it through life’s seemingly impossible situations.


Admittedly, I am not a television watcher. While I am aware of the Jon & Kate show, I think I have only watched one complete episode, and clips here and there. I have seen a great deal of criticism leveled at Kate Gosselin for her obsessive/anal organization and perceived criticism of her husband. I read the book out of curiosity and I'm glad I did.

I liked it. Kate is a strong, straight-forward person. She's honest and frank about their life. The book begins with their marriage and quickly moves into their fertility issues. They didn't set out to have sextuplets. They wanted one more child, but their belief that every life has a purpose wouldn't let them abort any of their babies. Doctors can call it "selective reduction" but it's abortion, plain and simple.

Kate chronicles her fears through her pregnancy and the pain and difficulties, but also her faith that God would see her through it and that her children would be healthy. She gives credit to her husband for his patience and love and praises him for being a good husband and father. Their relationship comes across as a true partnership. Once the children are born, she writes of the overwhelming task before them: to care for 6 premature babies and not neglect their 3-year old twins or their own relationship. She's candid about the fact that while she appreciated the volunteers and all the help, it was also difficult to lose their privacy and control of their lives and family. For someone who has control issues, this is a difficult thing.

While the family received a great deal of financial help, I came away feeling like Kate wrote this book to clear the air that they didn't ask for handouts, but are grateful for all those who chose to help them during a difficult time.

I was disappointed that the book really only touches on one area of their television life, and that was mention of the original one-hour documentary. There is no explanation of why they chose to put their family in a fish-bowl. I can assume that the money they receive from the show is helpful, but I would have liked to know more about the decision to do the show in the first place.

Each chapter begins with a scripture, and God is very much a central topic in the book. There is no mention of church attendance, their Christian faith seems central to their lives.

I think it's very easy to criticize and judge people for their actions. However, I think that unless you live with and raise 8 young children yourself, you have no basis criticizing others for the way they do it.

Overall, an easy, interesting and enthralling book.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * *

3/5 Stars

Love and Other Natural Disasters...Review...DNF

About the book:
Eve is eight months pregnant and in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration when she discovers that her husband Jonathan has developed an intimate relationship with a woman over the past year. Jonathon asserts his innocence (an affair involves physical intimacy, and he didn't have any), while Eve feels deeply betrayed by the emotional connection he shared with someone else. What Jon has done seems so terrifyingly out of character that Eve finds herself questioning her entire reality. Did she ever really know Jon at all? Was their happiness together a lie? Is emotional intimacy more forgivable than sexual intimacy? And can their marriage survive?

I wanted to like this book. However, I couldn't even finish it. I tried, but there is significant, vulgar profanity which never improves a story. For me, it was hard to get beyond. I also really didn't care for Eve. She wasn't very likeable to me and I found myself annoyed with her, more than anything else. The author is a marriage and family therapist and the plot and premise sounded fascinating. I wish I could have enjoyed it.

Thanks to Miriam at Hatchette Books for the opportunity to review this book as part of the Early Bird Blog Tour. You can learn more about Holly Shumas here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Many other people really liked this book. You can check out these blogs for additional reviews, most of which are positive.

http://www.writeforareader.edublogs.org
http://www.bermudaonion.wordpress.com
http://booksamyreads.blogspot.com
http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/
http://ablogofbooks.blogspot.com/
http://www.acircleofbooks.blogspot.com
http://athomewithbooks.blogspot.com
http://www.myfriendamysblog.com
http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/
http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/
http://www.skrishnasbooks.com
http://enroutetolife.blogspot.com/
http://www.anovelmenagerie.com
http://printedpage.us
http://cindysloveofbooks.blogspot.com/
http://luanne-abookwormsworld.blogspot.com/
http://bookopolis.blogspot.com
http://www.bookthoughtsbylisa.blogspot.com
http://exlibrisbb.blogspot.com/
http://jennsbookshelf.blogspot.com/
http://www.marjoleinbookblog.blogspot.com
http://linussblanket.com

Read 1/09


1/5 Stars

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Your Best Life Begins Each Morning...Review

About the book:
The potential to live your best life starts with each new morning. With every sunrise, you can choose to approach the day with an attitude of faith and expectancy. Bestselling author Joel Osteen writes, "When you get up in the morning, the first things you should do is set your mind in the right direction . . . and then go out anticipating good things."


Now, for the first time, Pastor Osteen presents a tool to accomplish that goal. Based on his book, Your Best Life Now, he offers prescriptions for positive living in 365 daily messages. Each message is accompanied by a relevant scripture.

A beautiful little book. Each day starts with a scripture and short essay or thought to reflect upon. The emphasis is positive thinking, not dwelling on the mistakes of yesterday, and allowing God to touch and inspire your life.

Terrific as a stand-alone devotional book, or as an addition to your daily scripture reading. It's the perfect size to stash in your purse if you want something uplifting to read while you're waiting in line somewhere.  It would also make a lovely gift.

Thanks to Hatchette Books/Faithwords for the opportunity to read and review this book. You can learn more about Joel Osteen here. You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * * *

4/5 Stars

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Bishop's Daughter...Review

About the book:
Darrin Bainbridge is your typical playboy in need of love, but not yet ready. He is a freelance journalist trying to break his big story. After a visit from his mother, Darrin gets an idea. He has heard all kinds of stories about "Hollywood" ministers who hold their church services on television, live in nice houses, drive nice cars, and have lots of money and women. 

Darrin is disgusted by it all especially when his mother Priscilla starts shouting praises for Atlanta Bishop Kumal Prentiss. Darrin decides to go to Atlanta, become a member of the bishop's church, and expose him for the hustling fraud that he believes he is. He just never planned on falling in love with the Bishop's daughter.
 

Darrin suddenly finds himself torn between his new found friend and his possible big break. 

Darrin Bainbridge is a freelance writer anonymously known as "The Mad Black Blogger", and looking for a big break, professionally. Believing that all television preachers live the high life off of their parishioners, he decides to investigate a well-known televangelist to expose the man's hidden secrets. What he finds, instead, changes his life.

Emoni Prentiss, the Bishop's daughter, is a responsible young woman who manages her father's business affairs. She walks a straight line, hoping to marry a godly man. When Darrin shows up at church, it alters her life's course.

The intended audience is definitely African-American Christian. I was unfamiliar with the "brotha" and "booty" talk, as well as the church references of the "armor bearer" and the Bishop's wife being known as "The First Lady". I don't know if these terms are general to evangelical Christians or just the African-American church.

S*x is a prevalent theme throughout the book. While the one, main, s*x scene is not explicit, there is a lot of talk about s*x and booty. For instance, the first thing Darrin notices about Emoni is her booty, and he talks about that a lot with his brotha.

Naturally there is a great deal of preaching and many bible references. However, it's relevant to the storyline and thought-provoking and inspiring, rather than preachy. I found it refreshing. With all the preaching, there is also talk of sin and its consequences. However, this doesn't stop these characters from sinning, although there is mild regret expressed.

The chapters alternate from the first-person perspectives of Darrin and Emoni. We see each situation from both viewpoints and it actually works here.

For the most part, an easy, entertaining read. Thanks to Hatchette Books for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about the author, Tiffany L. Warren here. You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * *

3/5 Stars

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blog Bling

Book Maniac at A Blog of Books and April of Cafe of Dreams each bestowed this lovely award upon me. This is the first award I've received on my book blog and I'm simply delighted. Please visit April and Book Maniac as their blogs are terrific and full of great reviews.

This is a “meme” award, so it gets passed on.
The rules for passing it on are:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

So, without further ado, I'd like to award this to the following, terrific bloggers:

Bermudaonion

Bree at The Things We Read

Wisteria at Bookworm's Dinner

Alyce at At Home With Books

Tristi at Tristi's Takes

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Ruth at Bookish Ruth

Take a moment and visit these blogs. They're all terrific.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Invisible Woman: A Special Story for Mothers...Review

About the book:
Invisibility is inflicted upon mothers. By the nature of the job their faces disappear and their work is anonymous. They become hands, building and shaping, fashioning and carving. But what if mothers saw their role like a builder working on one of the great cathedrals?

One day a man showed up on the construction site of one of the great cathedrals and saw a builder carving a tiny bird into a beam that would eventually be covered over by the roof. Puzzled, the man asked the worker, "Why are you putting so much time and effort into something no one will ever see?" It is reported that the builder replied, "Because God sees."

The Invisible Woman is a moving story, a sketch performed by Nicole Johnson at the WOF conferences, that affirms women in their often unseen daily chores for their families. It includes a dedication page with the inscription: With admiration for the greatness of what you are building, when only God sees. It is sure to become a treasured gift by mothers and grandmothers everywhere.

My Review:
I first heard about Nicole Johnson when I saw a You Tube video sketch of her talking about The Invisible Woman. It touched me and made me search out her book. And her book did not disappoint.

How often do women feel invisible? We give our all to being good wives and mothers, but sometimes our efforts are unappreciated and often unnoticed. Nicole addresses this issue in profound ways. She uses the example of a woman named Charlotte who, after confiding in a friend about her invisibility, receives a book about the great cathedrals in Europe. These great cathedrals often took so long to build that many of the workmen would never live to see them finished. Yet, they put their best work into those cathedrals because they knew that God would see that work.

Nicole says, "At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride." That one line touched me so much.

She also said, "
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there." That's what I want my boys to say too.

There was a wonderful section on using your invisibility for the good of others, rather than focusing on ourselves.

This little book is a gem. It's a short, inspiring read. It would make a perfect gift. I checked it out of the library, but I want to get my own copy so that I can re-read it again, and again.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * * * *

5/5 Stars

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet...Review

About the book:
Everyone knows the story of Elizabeth and Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. But what about their sister Mary? At the conclusion of Jane Austen's classic novel, Mary, bookish, awkward, and by all accounts, unmarriageable, is sentenced to a dull, provincial existence in the backwaters of Britain. Now, master storyteller Colleen McCullough rescues Mary from her dreary fate with The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, a page-turning sequel set twenty years after Austen's novel closes. 

The story begins as the neglected Bennet sister is released from the stultifying duty of caring for her insufferable mother. Though many would call a woman of Mary's age a spinster, she has blossomed into a beauty to rival that of her famed sisters. Her violet eyes and perfect figure bewitch the eligible men in the neighborhood, but though her family urges her to marry, romance and frippery hold no attraction. Instead, she is determined to set off on an adventure of her own. Fired with zeal by the newspaper letters of the mysterious Argus, she resolves to publish a book about the plight of England's poor. Plunging from one predicament into another, Mary finds herself stumbling closer to long-buried secrets, unanticipated dangers, and unlooked-for romance.

Meanwhile, the other dearly loved characters of Pride and Prejudice fret about the missing Mary while they contend with difficulties of their own. Darcy's political ambitions consume his ardor, and he bothers with Elizabeth only when the impropriety of her family seems to threaten his career. Lydia, wild and charming as ever, drinks and philanders her way into dire straits; Kitty, a young widow of means, occupies herself with gossip and shopping; and Jane, naïve and trusting as ever, spends her days ministering to her crop of boys and her adoring, if not entirely faithful, husband. Yet, with the shadowy and mysterious figure of Darcy's right-hand man, Ned Skinner, lurking at every corner, it is clear that all is not what it seems at idyllic Pemberley. As the many threads of McCullough's masterful plot come together, shocking truths are revealed, love, both old and new, is tested, and all learn the value of true independence in a novel for every woman who has wanted to leave her mark on the world.

Terrifically disappointing. With few exceptions, I haven't enjoyed many Pride and Prejudice sequels, but this one looked promising. While Colleen McCullough, thankfully, doesn't try to be Jane Austen, I think she seriously misses the boat when it comes to these characters. Anyone who has read Pride and Prejudice has their own ideas as to who Mr. Darcy is and how he acts, just as they have pictures in their minds of Elizabeth and her sisters. Even understanding that, I cannot envision these characters where McCullough has placed them, 20 years after Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage. It just didn't work for me.

The title is a bit misleading, because it's as much about Darcy and Elizabeth as it is about Mary. I found it to be more of an annoying, social commentary on the mistreatment of the poor than I did to be a truly interesting Pride and Prejudice sequel.

Much of it is far-fetched. I find it hard to see Mr. Darcy involved with people who would murder for him, regardless of whether he asked them to or not. I also don't see him separating the Bennet sisters because of their potential threat to his reputation. In Pride and Prejudice, he helps sort out Lydia and Wickham's situation because of his love for Elizabeth, not because of the damage they could do to his reputation.

Mary's "adventure" was also implausible to me. Her thoughts of being an independent, maiden author were promising, but the rest of it was unbelievable and annoying.

I liked Charlie, but the addition of other characters was odd. My only favorite part was when Elizabeth finally insulted Caroline Bingley to her face. Most likely unrealistic for the time, but we all wanted her to do it in the first book too!

While minimal, the book included extremely vulgar profanity, which was a real disappointment.

Overall, this book is not something I can recommend to people who are fans of Pride and Prejudice. Obviously, Ms. McCullough is not and as she has so eloquently stated she wanted to "tweak the noses of the literati". Well, I think most die hard Austen fans would say she accomplished that goal.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You, however, can purchase your own copy here, if you are so inclined.

Read 1/09

*
1/5 Stars

Prelude...Review

About the book:
B.J. Hoff, one of CBA's premier writers brings this riveting historical fiction series that meticulously depicts nineteenth century America. Prelude transports you to nineteenth-century New York and invites you to step into another time--a time that shaped a nation and defined her faith. This lively story carries you from immigrant ships to opulent estates, from skating-rink evangelistic crusades to star-studded concert halls, and introducing you to men and women you'll grow to love: a brooding blind musician, his suspicious but sympathetic sister-in-law, an unlikely pair of medical partners, and a struggling immigrant family. Pulsing with romance and intrigue, shining with artistry and faith, Prelude sounds the opening notes of a tale with a voice as big as America.

Set in 19th century America, with visits to Ireland, this was a fairly compelling story. There are several stories and subplots, some of which intertwine, so it's hard to name one main protagonist. Susanna leaves Ireland and comes to America to live with her brother-in-law and care for her niece, after her sister's death. Everything she ever heard about her brother-in-law, painted him as an unkind madman. Who she finds, causes her to see her late sister differently.

Andrew Carmichael is a lonely physician with a love of healing. As he finds his way through the teeming immigrant neighborhoods of New York, he meets a young woman doctor who shares his love of medicine and helping others.

The McGovern family travel in steerage from Ireland to America, leaving one son behind and nearly losing another from illness. They bring with them a ragged street urchin who learns about the love of God as she grows to love the people who provided her an opportunity above all others.

The ending is rather abrupt and I wish there was more, but this is the first of a series and introduces these characters whose story lines will no doubt be continued in future books.

B.J. Hoff has a remarkable way with words. This was an easy, enjoyable book to read. Her characters are compelling and it will be interesting to see how they progress in their future stories.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/09

* * *

3/5 Stars