Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brush of Angel's Wings - a BookSneeze review

Brush of Angel's Wings is the first book I've read by Ruth Reid. Ruth did a wonderful job in capturing the qualities of the characters in this novel, and at times had me chuckling, feeling frustrated, and even in tears. This is a novel that will evoke emotion, and that tells me that the writing is good--and unique!

Rachel Hartzler is a 20-year old Amish girl who has decided that she will be an old  maid. She's never selected at the Amish youth singings, and so she's decided that she will never be a wife. She's content with that idea and, as a result, is a regular farm hand for her father (and, as a result, gives her less time to learn to cook, sew, etc.). Her only brother had died, and so Rachel felt needed by her father.

But when Jordan Engles, son of a shunned woman, showed up in the Amish community needing work, Micah Hartzler gratefully accepts him as an extra set of strong farm hands. Rachel becomes jealous of her father's relationship with Jordan and resentment rears its ugly head, leading to cruel treatment of Jordan. Jordan and Rachel eventually learn to work together, and its through learning of their losses that they determine to work together.

Interspersed into the story is a battle between two angels--Nathaniel and fallen angel Tangus. While the battle between good and evil does indeed exist, the writing of these two left me disappointed. It felt as if Nathaniel was acting as the Holy Spirit, whispering into Jordan's and Rachel's consciences, and that I didn't like. Parts also felt unreal, and honestly the angel parts could have been left completely out and the story wouldn't have been harmed in anyway. I just felt like the angels were thrown in there for a bonus that really wasn't needed. The storyline had enough excitement in it that the angels weren't necessary, in my opinion.

Overall, the story was very well written and gripping. I was very pleased with the way Ruth Reid weaved the characters' personalities and made everything come together.

I am a member of BookSneeze, a fabulous program through Thomas Nelson. BookSneeze sends members free books to read and keep in exchange for written reviews on a blog and on a major retailer's website (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Harvest of Grace - a Waterbrook Multnomah review

Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall is the third book in the Ada's House series. This Amish fiction book was a pleasant read, and even at 354 pages, it doesn't feel like a long read. It is full of action, but I'll warn you that you'll probably want to read the first two books in this series before you try to read Harvest of Grace, because there are a lot of characters in this one whose stories are told in the first two books.

Sylvia Fisher and Aaron Blank are the two main characters in this story. You will also find a continuation of the stories of Cara Moore and Ephraim Mast as well as Lena Kauffman and Grey Graber.

Sylvia Fisher has left her home where her sister has betrayed her and married the man that Sylvia had promised to marry. Knowing that she needs to remove herself from Elam's gaze so that her feelings will fade for him, she moves to a dairy farm where she works tirelessly from dawn till nearly dusk.

Aaron Blank returns home after he's become sober, and the reception that he'd hoped he would get from his parents was not there. Hoping to gain his parents' merit and get them to sell the dairy farm so that he can open a store, Aaron finds that his task will not be easy when he lays eyes on the hard-working Sylvia Fisher.

The characters in this story are developed so beautifully. I truly enjoy a book whose characters I can see differing personalities. It's hard to peg characters, and sometimes they all seem to have the same type of personality, but Cindy does a good job with the individual character qualities of these characters.

Once I finished reading the book, I was sad to find out that this is the final book in the series. Too much was left open to me. I like an ending--a flat-out "that's-it-and-they-lived-happily-ever-after" story. What happens to Grey and Lennie? Are they able to have children? I'd like to see more of Cara and Ephraim as well. So sad that these folks' stories are through!

I received The Harvest of Grace as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Saving Hope

Saving Hope is a book right up my alley. Margaret Daley is an author whose books I've read in the past, so when I saw that she had a new book coming up, I wanted to snag it in a hurry!! If you love suspense and romance wrapped up in a Christian novel, this book won't disappoint!

This book is first in the series titled Men of Texas Rangers, so if you like Saving Hope, you'll want to keep looking for more from this series.

Kate Winslow, the director of Beacon of Hope, a shelter for teenage girls who have been caught up in prostitution rings, discovers that the shelter van is missing, along with one of her girls.

Wyatt Sheridan is a widowed father of teenage Maddie and is also a Texas Ranger. He has personal reasons for becoming involved with trying to break up the local teenage prostitution ring. When he and Kate Winslow come together to seek answers, Wyatt gets too close to finding the solution and Maddie becomes at risk for kidnapping by none other than the King of the ring himself.

This book is quite a lengthy story (a hefty 336 pages), but it doesn't feel like a lengthy read. It's a fast-paced story that will leave you breathless at times! If you're interested in reading a sample of this title, Margaret Daley currently has a sample on her website.

I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to read and review Saving Hope through NetGalley and Abingdon Press. My opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Need You Now Part 2 - a BookSneeze review

This is Part Two of my reviewing of Need You Now, a novel by Beth Wiseman. If you've not read my review of Part One, you can do so here.

The first half of Need You Now left me feeling as if the storyline hadn't been set in stone yet. In some ways, that's off-putting to me, but in some ways I guess one could consider it good because of the "what's-going-to-happen-next" thoughts. However, the story felt too up in the air for me at the halfway mark, so I was a bit concerned for the second half of the book.

The second half continued to develop, though, and during the last 20 percent or so a climax quickly resulted. (I think the climax was a little too fast-paced.) The story included a struggle with Layla that I hadn't anticipated, and I felt that Beth did a great job with that portion of the story. (I like surprises.)

Darlene, stay-at-home-mom and her husband Brad continued with their marital struggle. Darlene misunderstood a phone conversation Brad had with another woman which caused her to act on an emotion that she shouldn't have. Feelings of guilt resulted, which compounded all of the other things going on in her life at that time. Her oldest daughter Grace was recovering from her issues with cutting, and her husband worked long hours. But it took an unfortunate accident to right the family's situation.

I've been an avid reader of Beth's Amish fiction, and Beth's breakaway from that mold to write a more contemporary novel was a fair transition, I feel. However, at times the conversations felt unreal or forced. I also felt that there were a whole lot of large issues that didn't get good fleshing. Grace's cutting problems seemed too easily resolved, as did the kissing episode with Dave. Ansley's character, I felt, could have easily been left out because she had little part in the story. I didn't feel a connection with the characters like I normally do, and when I saw I was at the last page of the book, I didn't have a feeling of "resolution". As beautifully as the last page was written, it felt disjointed.

I will praise Beth, though, on her writing of Darlene's job with Cara, the autistic child. I felt that that was well-written and Cara's character was sufficiently captured. Beth captured some very interesting ideals though (teen issues such as cutting, issues with infidelity, childhood and spousal loss, etc.), and I wish that these things would have been more developed. She could have easily made this one book into three or four or perhaps into a much larger series, encapsulating Layla's story, Dave's story and Darlene's. Perhaps Beth can still do that. I would enjoy a more developed story of these characters--I really think they've got super duper potential!! Flesh them out some more, Beth--I'd like to see these people in the future. ;)

I am a member of BookSneeze, a fabulous program through Thomas Nelson. BookSneeze sends members free books to read and keep in exchange for written reviews on a blog and on a major retailer's website (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Heaven in Her Arms - a BookSneeze review

Heaven in Her Arms: Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What it Means for You is a new non-fiction book by Catherine Hickem, who (from her website) is a "speaker, author, coach, and relationship expert." I've reviewed another of her books--Regret Free Parenting--so when I saw she had another one out with emphasis on Mary, my curiosity was piqued.

Heaven in Her Arms uses Mary as an example for all of the fears and emotions that we as mothers go through. Chapter focuses include (but are not limited to): God looks at the heart, embracing fears, coming to God during times of need, reaching out for help and encouragement, having faith, praise, letting go, and trusting.

Catherine states in the prologue that God could have chosen anyone to carry and give birth to His Son, but He chose Mary. Why Mary? She was from the contemptible Galilean town called Nazareth, you know. God saw something uniquely special about her. Her faith must have been strong, she obviously must have trusted the Lord with her heart and leaned on Him for understanding. And just as God chose Mary to carry and nurture His Son, He also chooses us to carry our own and love them into His kingdom.

We as mothers struggle with a lot during our parenting years. Catherine reaches out to mothers who face insecurities, fears, and trust issues.

The book concludes with a study guide that you can use with your church women's group or in a book discussion setting.

If you're a mom, or striving to be a mom someday, this book will encourage your heart.

This book is due for release on April 17.

I am a member of BookSneeze, a fabulous program through Thomas Nelson. BookSneeze sends members free books to read and keep in exchange for written reviews on a blog and on a major retailer's website (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble).