Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review on The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Four women, one wedding dress managing its way through different times and situations, a one size fits all kind of dress, never needing any altering, never aging or looking out of date, always looking perfect on each bride. Spanning in time from 1812 to present, the reader discovers the origin of the dress and how it came to be and the mystery behind all the women that wore the dress and how they were linked together.  I found this storyline to be most captivating and most charming as the story unfolds taking it’s time in a most wonderful way.

  The story opens with our present day heroine Charlotte inexplicably finding herself at the annual Ludlow Antiques auction at the Ludlow estate, bidding on a mysterious trunk with who knows what inside; 1,000$ of bidding later the trunk is hers.  She is a bit surprised at herself for splurging so to speak, as she is a future bride herself saving for her own wedding that is rapidly approaching. But this little purchase sends her on a mystery of her own as she seeks to know the story behind what’s in the trunk which is of course “the wedding dress”.  While this contemporary storyline is happening, the book also flashes back to 1812 and Emily Canton a young beautiful woman with 2 men that have caught her eye, one that she thought was only in her past and one who is very much in her present.  As the story unfolds Emily discovers who is after her heart and who has ulterior motives.  Two other “wearer’s of the dress” Mary Grace and Hillary have lesser storylines but they are still intricate to the novel and an important part in the story.

Rachel Hauck weaves joy, heartache, coming of age struggles , love and a charming element of magic in a certain male character that pops up throughout the novel that just make this story a delight to read.  This novel has wide range appeal as who doesn’t love to read a little romance, but also in this novel a strong historical component as the dress spans through time and what was happening to the women, as well as a nice contemporary storyline as well, as a friend of mine said- “it has something for everyone”. I heartily agree. I also want to mention that the author’s note at the end is not one to be skipped as it brings even more light to the precious spiritual elements to the book.

I highly recommend this book, there’s just something really special about it.

5 stars

I was graciously provided a digital copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review on Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

To me, there is just always something fun, intriguing and downright captivating about a good “fish out of water story.” You know those stories I mean, where the main character is taken completely out of their element, where they really don’t know which end is up and so inevitably they do things that are wrong and often times embarrassing. And they usually do them, never in a small way, but with pure unadulterated gusto bringing the audience/reader to that place where you laugh out loud at the character’s mistakes as you can relate because you have been there yourself.  Spunky Rosa, the main character in Sixty Acres and a Bride, by Regina Jennings delivers these moments in spades.

  It was with a little bit of trepidation I must admit that I began this novel as I thought- here we go – an updated Ruth/Naomi story set in Texas  in 1878,  I wonder how this will fly?  But trust me, this first offering by Regina Jennings does fly, in fact I might say it soars.  I really, really, enjoyed the character of Rosa, a beautiful Mexican widow returning to Texas with her mother- in- law Louise Garner to save the family farm so to speak. Of course, this is Rosa’s first time in Texas and so poor Rosa doesn’t know how to dress, how and when to speak, or how to impress this small town’s people as she is the object of much gossip and naysayers because of her outsider’s ways. But she is smart, beautiful and a very hard worker and thus captures the essence of “Ruth” perfectly, but in a fun and new way.  Then there’s Weston Garner, her now dead husband’s cousin, who is attractive, well off, and a widower himself with a story to tell. He is of course cast as the Boaz character to the story, the kinsman redeemer. But it seems to me as the story progresses that they seem to rescue each other.   I felt that both character’s were written well as their attraction built, but both coming to the table with a little bit of relationship baggage that needed to be dealt with before the relationship could  fully develop.  The story is rounded out with a really good villain in a neighbor named Mr. Tillerton who is easy to despise. He brings that sense of tension and suspense to the story as every good story needs a really good bad guy!

Through many dangers, toils and snares, goodness and love do finally prevail in this really fun story by Regina Jennings and for those that are fans of a good Christian historical fiction books, I think you will find this a delightful twist on the age old story of Ruth and Boaz. Regina Jennings gives us a heroine to cheer on, a hero with room to grow and grow he does, and a delightful ending where all is as it should be. Congrats to you Regina on a wonderful debut novel.

4 stars

This novel was graciously provided for me to read for review by Bethany House publishers with the sole intent of soliciting an honest and unbiased review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review on Stand By Me by Neta Jackson

Have you ever had that situation where you were reading a book and you find yourself just plain irked with the characters?  I mean they were really getting under my skin, their choices, what they say, how they are treating the people in their lives, etc.  As I started reading  Stand by Me by Neta Jackson I gotta say, I was feeling a little irked.

 If you have read any of the other novels by Neta Jackson , then you will see yourself once again returning to Chicago and once again you will  see some of her Yaya Yada prayer group characters in this novel, mainly Avis Douglass and her husband Peter as the novel opens with them celebrating their 6th anniversary. Sadly Avis’ daughter Rochelle is in a tough spot as she tries to make things work in her life,  a single mom, HIV positive, an abusive ex-husband, and now she has lost another job and shown up on her Mother and Step-Father’s doorstep once again. Peter takes a stand and recommends using tough love with Rochelle in not letting her stay with them indefinitely. But the rub is that Rochelle has Conny- Avis’ 6 year old Grandson in tow, so poor Avis is conflicted in what the right thing to do is. Rochelle leaves with Conny and  no word and no contact. 

 Enter in Kat Davies, a college student who is new to the Souled Out Community church that Avis and Peter are long time members and leaders of  as well. Kat saunters in one Sunday with many friends in tow and sort of plops herself among them rather like a bull in a china shop. She is so eager to make a difference in an Urban experience program that she sometimes fails to see the people and their real needs. One of her counselors at her college urged her to “talk less and listen more” which she got a little bit better at as the book went on, but it was a real struggle for her. She is a relatively new Christian with lots of zeal but little discernment. 

Kat and friends end up renting an apartment below the Douglass’ and Kat proceeds to rub Avis the wrong way again and again. This is where the irksome moments come into play as I kept getting mad at these characters for how they were treating each other, Avis’ constant irritation with Kat, Kat’s impulsiveness and tendency to run off at the mouth, Avis’ daughter continually shying away from getting help, etc.  But as the story played out, as the character’s were honest with each other, etc. I realized that all this frustration with these characters was a good thing as it revealed to me that these characters read as real people. They all had their own inward motivations as to why they responded as they did and Neta Jackson does a great job with this storyline in making you really connect and care about these characters.  I was irked because I really wanted the best for them. You see people are rarely what we take them as at face value, in that there is usually a lot going on and if we take the time to stop, care, listen and truly find out what their needs are, then amazing relationships are formed and especially with those people that we maybe didn’t like at first.

Great read! 4 stars

A free copy of this book was provided for me through the Booksneeze program through Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.