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Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lumby Lines...Review...DNF

About the book:
Nestled in the Northwest is a quaint little town that its quirky residents are proud to call home. With charming shops lining its one main thoroughfare, Lumby has the oldest apple tree in the county and the smallest bank in the state. And though it's hours from the nearest big city, you'll always find Lumby close to your heart . . .

Nearly destroyed by fire, Montis Abbey remains a ruin on the outskirts of Lumby. Once home to a resourceful order of monks, it stands abandoned, surrounded by its overgrown orchards. Then Mark and Pam Walker, a vacationing couple from the East Coast, stumble upon it -- and upon the answer to their prayers. Leaving behind their hectic lives to restore the monastery and turn it into an inn is a dream come true.

But some residents of Lumby take a while to warm up to outsiders. One of them is irascible William Beezer, owner of The Lumby Lines -- the newspaper "worth the paper it's printed on." At every turn, he tries to hinder the Walkers' efforts. The couple soon learns that for every citizen like William, there are many more willing to lend a hand, and that Lumby isn't just a place -- it's a way of life.

Disappointing. I could not finish it. I'd seen it compared to Jan Karon's Mitford series and I loved those books. This was like a flat, pale attempt at imitation, and one that tried too hard. While I've seen these characters described as quirky, I saw very little character development and nothing to make me care about them. I think what was most difficult for me was the strange mix of tenses. It wasn't a first person narrative, but the mix of tenses was odd and incredibly distracting.

The book has received other, very positive, comments and I have no doubt that it will appeal to many people. I'm just not one of them.

Thanks to Caitlin Price from FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Gail Fraser here.  You can purchase your own copy here.


1/5 Stars

Friday, February 26, 2010

Screen Play...Review

About the book:
At thirty, Harper fears her chances for a thriving acting career and finding true love are both fading fast. After a devastating year of unemployment and isolation in Chicago, Harper is offered an unexpected role in a Broadway play—as understudy to New York’s biggest diva––and everything in Harper's world changes.

Harper also hopes to find love in NYC, but when it doesn't happen, she reluctantly signs up to an online matchmaking site. Frustration mounts when the only match Harper is even remotely interested in lives in a remote territory on the opposite coast, thousands of miles away. A faith conversation during her year in Chicago shapes how Harper sees everything. She wants to see God at work in her life, but His ways are mysterious, and she's faced with challenges in the secular world of Broadway. Harper feels like an actress who doesn’t act and a woman in love with someone she's never even seen, but God's about to change all that.

Linked through the contemporary, text message world of Internet dating, Harper learns it's possible to care for someone outside her own universe, even when that someone can't be touched, and ultimately how to love. She reaches out through the impersonal world of cyberspace and becomes more aware than ever of God reaching out to her. Sometimes the person farthest away from you, she discovers, is the one who's closest to your heart.

Loved it. I've seen Chris Coppernoll's name and books around, and have them on my Goodreads to-read list. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to discover him. I thoroughly enjoyed Screen Play.

I'm not normally a big fan of first person narrative, but I loved Harper's voice. She's just someone with whom you can connect and relate. I liked her. Her faith and desire to serve God and follow His path for her is strong, but she's not perfect. Her regret at her inability to apologize after confronting Tabby early in the book is real.

Online dating as it's known now, didn't exist when I got married. I don't know that I would be even able to enter the world of online dating if I were single, but it's so prevalent and an accepted part of mainstream life, and it's an integral part of Harper's story. I think Harper's initial reluctance to sign up rang true, yet I cheered as she let her guard down and fell in love with Luke.

Technology has brought such a new and dynamic element to our interpersonal relations. I blog, I have a Facebook account and a cell phone. I don't Twitter and the only people I regularly text are my husband and youngest sister. I don't even watch television on a regular basis, and I prefer holding books in my hand and have no desire for a Kindle or similar device. I guess I'm part Luddite!

I enjoyed Avril and Luke and the rest of the cast of characters. I've seen Broadway plays performed in San Francisco, but never New York and I've never been a theater insider, so the insights into the world of New York theater were fascinating.

With some ups and downs, friendship and love, drama and adventure, this is a charming book and one I wish didn't end.

And, Chris? I think a sequel needs to be written about Avril and James...

Thanks to Audra Jennings at The B&B Media Group and David C. Cook for the opportunity to tour this book. You can learn more about Chris Coppernoll here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/10

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Golden Cross...Review

About the book:
"It is said that as Cahira, daughter of the great Irish king Rory O'Connor, lay dying of a wound from a Norman blade, she lifted her hand toward heaven and beseeched God that others would follow after her, bright stars who would break forth from the courses to which they are bound and restore right in this murderous world..."

To Kathleen O'Connor, Cahira's story is nothing more than a charming legend-until her research divulges that several of Cahira's heirs did, indeed, leave the traditional roles of womanhood to fight for right. Stunned, Kathleen realizes she herself bears Cahira's mark. Is Kathleen destined to continue the legacy in the twenty-first century?

To discover how the histories of these women relate to her own future, Kathleen must delve deep into the past to learn the truth about The Heirs of Cahira O'Connor...

Aidan O'Connor was raised among pickpockets and prostitutes in a Dutch colony on Java, Indonesia. But when a world-famous cartographer discovers her natural artistic talent, she is given a chance to leave her troubled life behind. Disguised as a boy, Aidan joins her benefactor at sea and begins the work of drawing the flora and fauna of the new world. This fresh beginning holds far more than adventure, however. It also holds a great love. But can this love survive the force of Aidan's past...and her ambitions for her future?I wasn't sure what to expect from this one. It seemed like another sappy Christian romance, but once I got into it, it was somewhat compelling. I liked the characters and the story line was fairly easy to follow and somewhat predictable.

The historical aspect about the early days of cartography and the mapping of the globe was interesting. It's a light, easy read, but nothing stellar. I liked the characters and it was a nice diversion.

This is the second of the Heirs of Cahira O'Connor series. I have not read the first one, The Silver Sword. While I enjoyed this one, the jury is still out on whether I'll look for the others.

Thanks to Liz Johnson of WaterBrook Multnomah, a division of Random House, for the opportunity to review this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/10

* * 
2/5 Stars

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Faithful Heart...Review

About the book:
Continuing with the adventures of certified medical nurse Breanna Baylor, the Angel of Mercy series tackles the real-life issues of faithfulness and abuse in
Faithful Heart. Picking up where A Promise for Breanna left off, Book Two follows Breanna to San Francisco, where she discovers that her sister Dottie has been beaten by a husband who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of serving in the Civil War. As the story unfolds, Breanna, Dottie, and Dottie's children find themselves at risk as they fight to save a man they can no longer trust. Readers will experience the heartache and hope of two woman striving to save a family in Faithful Heart.

The second book in the Angel of Mercy series, this picks up immediately where A Promise for Breanna leaves off. Breanna is still traveling with the wagon train enroute to San Francisco. The story alternates chapters between Breanna's story and her sister Dottie's story. Dottie's husband Jerrod suffers debilitating episodes of post-traumatic stress syndrome stemming from his Civil War experiences. Because of this, Dottie and her children are frequent victims of abuse. Dottie and Jerrod's story is one of heartache and despair, as they try and cope with Jerrod's issues with faith and love.

Breanna continues her journey by wagon train, this time accompanied by her true love, John Stranger. She runs into a bit of drama in the high Sierra's but the emotional aspect from the first book is missing.

The sisters' stories don't intersect until near the end of the book, when Breanna shows up in time to help everyone. Like the first one, Breanna's Christian faith is at the forefront, as is her sister's. The story didn't ring quite true for me. I'm sure the idea of PTSD is not new, but Jerrod's diagnosis and the explanations seemed so modern and contrived, and not historically accurate. Of course my medical knowledge, past or present, is woefully inadequate too.

While I wasn't as drawn to this one as I was the first, it's still an enjoyable, easy read. I will be looking forward to tracking down the remaining books in the series.

Thanks to Liz Johnson of WaterBrook Multnomah, a division of Random House, for the opportunity to review this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/10

* *
2/5 Stars

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Promise for Breanna...Review

About the book:
For certified medical nurse Breanna Baylor, the course of true love never did run smooth. First, the coldly deceptive Frank Miller jilted her to marry another, destroying her faith in all men. Then unable to give her heart again, Breanna foolishly sent away her one true love, legendary hero John Stranger.

Now, years later, Breanna unexpectedly crosses paths with--and draws the unbridled wrath of--her former fiance, a man accused of cold-blooded murder. Will the brutal fugitive succeed in taking her life? Or does the future still hold a promise for Breanna?

After working in a small, frontier town as the only medical staff, Breanna finds herself a traveler on a wagon train heading towards San Francisco to visit her sister. She treats patients, performs surgery, delivers babies and fights off Indian attacks. All the while, she nurtures and teaches those around her.

I will admit that my first reaction to looking at this book was that it was a shallow romance novel. It captured my attention though and, for the most part, I enjoyed it. Filled with some romance and some drama, this is Christian fiction and somewhat preachy in that Breanna is forever teaching and bringing others to find Christ. It's also enthralling and enjoyable.

Set in the nineteenth century frontier, I found the historical aspect fascinating, especially Breanna's explanations of the history and evolution of medicine, as well as the biblical references to healing.

I like Breanna, although I think she's much too perfect and good. She has no flaws or faults, and always says the right thing and does the right thing.

This is the first of the Angel of Mercy series, but not the first time Breanna has appeared in an Al Lacy book. She and John Stranger appeared in at least one other series. This series is meant to stand alone however, with a brief history given at the beginning. I haven't read any of the other series' yet, but I assume that the characters, especially John Stranger, would seem more personal and developed if one was already familiar with them.

I believe my library has most of these other books and I look forward to checking them out and finding out more about Breanna and John.

Personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dreams That Won't Let Go...Review

About the book:
Indigo Burns is excited. Her wedding preparations to the man of her dreams are under way, her photography career is a success, and her family seems to be doing better than ever--all except her brother Reuben, who nobody has seen in years. But that's about to change.

When Reuben decides to move back home to Jubilant, Texas, he hopes to find healing with his sisters. But Indigo isn't so sure their relationship can be mended. And when younger sister Yasmin makes a life-altering choice, it seems like only a miracle can put the Burns family back together.

Will they ever be able love unconditionally and release each other to live their dreams?

The third installment of the Jubilant Soul series and, like the second one, it stands alone well. Indigo's story is continued, but through her relationship with her brother Reuben, the prodigal son returned.

It was a bit of a slow starter for me, but I ultimately enjoyed the story. Indigo starts out rather petulant and whiny and I wanted to kick her. But, as she's planning her wedding, her mother showers all her love and attention on Reuben and his family instead of focusing on anyone else, and Indigo is understandably a bit jealous. Reuben's perspective was a welcome addition as he finally faces his past issues and is able to move forward.

The Burns family has their faith tested but, as always, they come out ahead and stronger for it. Even amidst trials and the urge to pull away from each other, their family remains strong. Pastor Taylor has guidance and advice for Reuben that was thought-provoking for me. I appreciate when a novel causes me to stop and ponder. While the story wraps up neatly and somewhat predictably, it's not completely light reading and is easily recommended.

I would like to see a fourth novel that continues Yasmin's story and modeling experiences.

Available February 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Stacy Hawkins Adams here.  You can purchase your own copy here.
Read 2/10

* * *
3/5 Stars