Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review on Gayle Roper's Shadows on the Sand

I remember growing up and hearing the bell choir perform at my church.  I have to say that I really enjoyed it, especially when they were all synchronized and hit their notes in perfect unison.  It made for a beautiful sound and it’s what I think of whenever I hear the phrase “ringing true”, you know that moment when something hits you as pure and sincere.  Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper is one of those books that “rings true” in my mind and really did touch me with regards to the storyline, characters and writing. It is told with sincerity and sensitivity.

Carrie Carter is a small café business owner in Seaside, New Jersey, having survived a tough upbringing with a deadbeat mother with no concern for Carrie or her younger sister Lindsay.  But Carrie was a fighter and teenage runaway protecting her sister from her mother’s neglect and loser boyfriends who did not have the girl’s best interests in mind.  Having survived all that and starting over in Seaside, Carrie made a life for herself and sister and comes to own Carrie’s café where her younger sister also works.  Enter Greg Barnes, an ex-cop and wounded man who has lost his wife and children in tragic circumstances.  Perhaps it’s his sad background that attracts Carrie to Greg, but Greg doesn’t seem to know that she is alive.  Add in a pretty interesting twist with one of Carrie’s waitresses mysteriously disappearing after her dishwasher is found dead and you get a situation where Greg and Carrie are thrown together trying to figure out what is going on.

  This story is well told, especially with regards to the complexity of the characters of Greg and Carrie.  Both have experienced a whole lot of heartache before knowing the other and make mistakes along the way with regards to their relationship with each other and with God.  I appreciated that these characters seemed very real.  Carrie didn’t’ really want to face up to some of her past and reconcile a relationship.  Greg has a hard time moving forward with all the fear that is holding him back.  I love how the author weaved their journeys together with imperfect moments, it makes the characters come alive and gives them reality and depth.

 I appreciate a book that has some suspense, little bit of humor, and a little soul searching thrown in as well.  Gayle Roper is now on my radar screen as an author and just like I looked forward to hearing the bell choir play at my church with those perfectly hit notes, I will definitely look forward to reading more of Gayle Roper in the future.  Keep on ringing true!

4 stars

A free copy of this book was graciously provided fo me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review on There You'll Find Me

Some people have this uncanny ability to get you laughing quite easily, and isn’t that a wonderful thing?  Laughter just makes everything better, you’re happy, you’re comfortable, and you really don’t want it to end.  Those are pretty much my feelings about books written by Jenny B Jones.  The thing that is really a fascinating combo though is that right along with the laughter in that place where you are happy and comfortable,  Jenny introduces you to characters that have “stuff” that is pretty serious to wade through, you know stuff like complicated  family relationships, grief, perfectionism and  parental approval to name a few.  You find all of this stuff, along with the laughter and much more in Jenny B Jones latest book There You’ll Find Me.

  Finley Sinclair, little sister to Alex Sinclair  from Save the Date (for loyal Jenny B Jones fans) is on her way to Ireland when she lands a free upgrade into First Class where she just happens to sit next to none other than Beckett Rush, up and coming teen movie star . With his Vampire franchise of films with such titles as Vampire Boarding School and Friday Night Bites, he has developed quite a following of teens and tweens alike. Unfortunately, his reputation precedes him as that of a Mr. Hollywood Party Boy and as Finley is on a personal spiritual renewal trip to get a fresh start after making some poor choices, she wants as far a berth as she can get from the guy that every other girl would die to be around. As luck would have it, Beckett is staying at the very Bed and Breakfast, while filming his latest Vampire movie,  where Finley is staying with her host family during her study abroad program, so their paths do keep crossing.  Finley finds that maybe all those paparazzi reports on Beckett weren’t really that accurate and Beckett can’t help but be drawn to a girl that seems to be real and not cookie-cutter Hollywood. As they get to know each other all of that “stuff”- good and bad starts to come out as they help each other to find what they truly are looking for.

  This story while having the usual humor that Jenny B. Jones always dishes up so well ,also has some real characters dealing with real issues in their lives.  I love how the journey progresses for both characters with regards to figuring out what path God has for each of their lives and that it isn’t always what they naturally thought would happen.  But God’s ways are always better than our ways and a whole lot of growth takes place during the process. 

  This YA book is charming, lovely set in Ireland, and a pleasure to read.  I like reading good YA stuff that I can pass on to my daughter’s with confidence that they will be read , enjoyed and even have a great spiritual message in between the laughter and the tears.  Thanks Jenny B Jones once again for a great book!  Well constructed plot, loveable characters and a story that tugs on your heartstrings while filling the reader with joy and hope!

5 stars

A free digital copy was given to me by the publisher through the Netgalley program.  I was not obligated to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.