Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review on Heart of Gold

Well we have all had that feeling like a fish out of water, right?  Like for instance you have just moved to a new place and everything just seems foreign, the people, the places, the way they do things. Well that is how the poor heroine Shannon Adair of Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher feels as she is starting a whole new life with her widowed father Reverend Delaney Adair as they are trying to get settled in Grand Coeur, Idaho, this rather –rougher –than- what -she’s- used –to- type of place, so much different than where she was raised in Virginia. The setting is 1864 smack dab in the middle of the civil war and her Southern allegiances are strong.   Her father feels firmly called to this new community of less refinement and sentiments both towards the union and the confederacy, but people he feels called to minister to; Shannon is not so sure.  Thus begins her struggle to surrender to God in this new place.

  Shannon soon finds purpose to her time in the gold mining town of Grand Coeur by drawing on her nursing skills honed back home in Virginia while tending to many wounded soldiers. But as there is no battlefield here, just a critically ill woman who has recently arrived in Grand Coeur herself, seeking to reconnect with her brother Matt Dubois and with her young son in tow, she is in need of much care and help caring for her son. Shannon immediately has compassion on this woman and a friendship is forged.  Not at all impressed by her brother Matt Dubois at first, as his political views did not line up at all with hers, she is not immediately inclined to pay much notice of him, but as time goes on, her interest in Mr. Dubois grows as does his interest in her. 

 I enjoy books in the civil war era for sure- such a confusing, complicated time for our country at war against itself.  I really enjoyed this book and especially liked the character of Reverend Adair as he was a man who really loved God, and although a southerner at heart, he still took a stand with regards to the South’s view on slavery and how he did not feel it was right.  He also was very in tune to the prejudice in this small town towards the Chinese population and was taking steps to try and remedy that.  I just enjoyed that the character was able to look beyond what the North thought, what the South thought and try to be more concerned with what God thought concerning, people, politics and the church. I thought that was very well done.  The romance between Shannon and Matt had a good flow to it and even that moment of crisis (a couple of them) where you hoped that all would turn out right in the end , but you weren’t sure to which I will not divulge how that ends up!

For those that enjoy a good civil war, historical fiction read, this one is for you. Robin Lee Hatcher delivers a lovely read once again.

4 stars

I was graciously provided a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through the Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a favorable review.  All opinions expressed were honest and my own.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review on The Shadow of your Smile

Imagine you wake up to find yourself in a hospital room with the memories of 25 years of your life just missing, gone, kaput. In your mind you are a college student at the beginning of your life ready to pursue your dreams and make a difference.  You prefer diet Coke to coffee and want your parents to come to the hospital to see you, not this 50 year old stranger who keeps holding your hand telling you he is your husband. And let’s just say that the shock of seeing your reflection in the mirror is a bit jarring.   This is the predicament of Noelle Hueston, the main character in The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren. Only Noelle isn’t a college student, she is a married woman with children and a husband and some tough memories that she cannot recall. 

  The struggling marriage of Noelle and her husband Eli is simply forgotten by Noelle after suffering an accident where her head is hit incredibly hard causing her to lose all memories from the last 25 years.  So while she is struggling to remember her past and the people closest to her, she also discovers that things have not turned out for her as she thought they would.  She was an aspiring artist that all but gave up her dreams for others and she feels a bit disappointed to see what her 40-something self did with her life in comparison to what her 20-something self thought she would be doing.  What a fascinating perspective for her to see.  She’s not too happy with her waist size either.  (But then again, who is?)  Her husband Eli seeks to have a brand new start with this new wife who doesn’t remember all the heartache of their past and wants to build forward from there.  They both learn though that it’s impossible to divorce our past from our present, it’s what grows us and something we need to make peace with in order to move forward.  It cannot be ignored.  There are some other family dynamic stuff that comes into play with the sons that shows some pretty realistic moments, I believe- people placing blame, the importance of honesty and forgiveness. Very well done here.

 I thought the pacing of the novel was good, enjoyed the character development and storyline.  I actually thought the ending was good, realistic, although I might say that part felt a little rushed.  Overall, I enjoyed what this novel explored, the whole idea of are you happy where you are, is it what you imagined and if not, what can you do to change it?  I think we all have that question in our mind to a certain extent.  Is my life really what I pictured it would be?  My answer is no, it’s not, but I think this alternate route, personally, is better than what I had planned.

4 stars.

I was graciously provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review on Eye of the Sword

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be that reader that likes a little variety in genre in her reading. I like a good suspense book, love some historical fiction a funny contemporary and yes even a good fantasy book filled with swords, princes and even a bit of magic thrown in.  Karen Henley’s offering Eye of the sword- Book two in the Angelaeon Circle definitely satisfied my hankering for a good fantasy story quite well, and even though I had not read Book one in this series, I was still able to follow along just fine and understand what was going on. 

 Our imperfect hero is Trevin who is revealed as being a “Nephili” or half angel, half human is on a quest.(There is always a good quest involved in a great fantasy book) to serve his King, King Laetham of Camrithia. His mission is to find the missing comains –the captains of the king’s army- and bring them back to Camrithia as they are needed because there is evil and rumblings happening in Camrithia.  Another part of his quest is to find 2 missing harps and bring them back to the princess Melaia who needs them to restore the stairway to heaven.  Trevin of course has an emotional attachment to Melaia and wants to prove his worth as well.  It is a dangerous mission with a time limit of one season in which to complete it.  Add in a dark and evil prince bent on wanting to marry Melaia to form an alliance between 2 kingdoms and you have an exciting fantasy book filled with angels, evil workings and interesting secrets that pop up to truly show the true worth of Trevin.

Strong points in this book really touched on Trevin’s identity, and struggling with his past decisions and mistakes and how that guilt impacted him now.  It begged the character to explore the question- “Am I the sum of my mistakes or am I able to be redeemed, move beyond them, learn and become someone with noble character?” I thought that was very well done and even encouraging if the reader goes deeper and asks themselves the same question.  I also have to say that I appreciated at the front of the book how the author had an easy referral guide, explaining each character and even the hierarchy of the different angels as it really helped me keep track.  I enjoyed this book very much and am definitely going to read the first book as well.

4 stars

I was given a free copy of this book from the blogging for books program in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.