If you can get past the constant name dropping (brand names, that is) and put up with the main character's whiny tone until she starts to mature a bit...moreIf you can get past the constant name dropping (brand names, that is) and put up with the main character's whiny tone until she starts to mature a bit in the second half of the book, "Stork" by Wendy Delsol is a worthwhile read. The contemporary take on Nordic mythology is definitely a nice change in the vampire-flooded YA market. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions and figurative language, although the sarcasm went overboard at times. The characters are well done, too - Hulda was fascinating and mysterious without being too kooky, Monique provided a great contrast (and occasionally mirror) for Kat, and Jack was a refreshing male lead who actually shows some respect for women, a sense of responsibility and a little vulnerability. As I mentioned, Kat's character can be pretty annoying in the first part of the book - her self-centered attitude and snobbery go way beyond typical teen, if you ask me - but I did enjoy watching her grow and develop as she learned what being a Stork was all about and how her actions/decisions could affect those around her.(less)
Loosely based on the story of Ester, First Date by Krista McGee is a light-hearted young adult novel with a very normal main character that almost any...moreLoosely based on the story of Ester, First Date by Krista McGee is a light-hearted young adult novel with a very normal main character that almost any Christian teen girl will relate to immediately. Addy comes across as a real Christian teen, shy about sharing her faith and unsure of God's plans. Her friend Kara is a great supporting character, very vibrant and she adds some humor to the drama of reality TV. The book does a great job depicting the "behind the scenes' part of so-called reality shows. The storyline moves forward at a good pace, and not always in a predictable pattern, which is a refreshing change from your typical YA novel. I would recommend First Date to anyone looking for a fun yet inspiring romance, especially teens who might be struggling with some of the same issues Addy faced. It would also be a great addition to a church library or for a book club - it includes a reading group guide at the end.(less)
"The Sound of Red Returning" by Sue Duffy offers something for everyone. Musicians will immediately identify with the main character's passion for her...more"The Sound of Red Returning" by Sue Duffy offers something for everyone. Musicians will immediately identify with the main character's passion for her music and appreciate the concept of passing secret messages through sheet music. Mystery fans are sure to love the political intrigue, plot twists and fast-paced action. Suspense surrounds one particular character who lurks in the background, unidentified until the last chapters. Those who like a little romance will enjoy watching the candid interactions and growing attraction between Leisl and Cade. And Cade's grandfather Ian is a delightfully cantankerous character everyone will love.(less)
When you turn the last page of a book and find yourself disappointed it's over, you know that book is a keeper!
I really enjoyed "The Keeper" by Suzann...moreWhen you turn the last page of a book and find yourself disappointed it's over, you know that book is a keeper!
I really enjoyed "The Keeper" by Suzanne Woods Fisher. There's a lot more going on in this book than the summary would suggest. The story is full of endearing characters (mostly Julia's family) and I loved every one of them (well, maybe not Paul). Each one has their own challenges to overcome, such as her sisters' resentment of their new housekeeper's stern rules, their father Amos's failing health, and Roman's mysterious past.
Although I knew the two characters would eventually end up together, I couldn't predict how. And I absolutely didn't expect some of the twists that came near the end. I suggest you have a few tissues handy when you get to chapter 20!
The only thing I didn't like much about "The Keeper" was how the perspective jumped from one character to the next so frequently. It was hard to identify with the main characters when the story gets told from the viewpoint of just about every character at one point or another. Then again, since this is the first of a new series, it makes sense that the author would try to provide a broad cast to set the scene for future books.
Up next in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series is "The Haven," set for August 2012 this year. It's Sadie's story, and I can't wait to read it :)(less)
Emily and David both believe events in their past have made them unsuitable for marriage. So although neither tells the other person why, they both ag...moreEmily and David both believe events in their past have made them unsuitable for marriage. So although neither tells the other person why, they both agree there can never be more than friendship between them. As their relationship grows, however, both begin to want more than just friendship.
At the same time, Emily and David are getting to know their grumpy neighbor, Martha, who really just wants a family. And David's Aunt Katie Ann and Uncle Ivan moved with David's family to Canaan for a fresh start, but their marriage continues to fall apart.
From the first scene, "Seek Me with All Your Heart" captivated me and I finished it in one day. I especially love how Emily and David meet, and Martha is a hoot. Wiseman does a great job connecting the multiple plot lines while keeping Emily and David at the center of the story. She also deals with some subjects I've never seen in Amish fiction, realistically communicating the sensitive subjects and resulting emotions without being frightening or explicit. And although I expected some predictability - this is a romance, after all - there were plenty of surprises to hold my attention.
**spoiler alert** Overall, this is a very sweet and enjoyable book. After meeting many of the characters in the previous book, I liked seeing how they...more**spoiler alert** Overall, this is a very sweet and enjoyable book. After meeting many of the characters in the previous book, I liked seeing how they’ve changed and grown. Especially Martha, who has a significant part in the first book but is a much more central character here in book two. I loved watching her grow in her faith and reach out to those around her. I would never have expected the Martha of book one to take in a teenage runaway!
Also in the first book, I’d been curious about Katie Ann and her relationship with her husband Ian. When he left her at the end of “Seek me with all your heart,” I was anxious to find out what happened to her and was so happy she found Eli. He’s a neat character, too; unlike many Amish men, he knows a lot about children having raised six on his own. I really like how Wiseman introduces several situations that one wouldn’t necessarily think of in an Amish society, both with Eli’s wanderlust and of course, Ian’s infidelity to Katie Ann.
The message of the book is strong and explored in numerous characters – mainly, the idea that what we have planned for our own lives is often not what God has in mind, and that many times we have to look past, or even give up, our plans in favor of God’s ultimate, perfect plan for each of our lives.
I received a copy of The Wonder of Your Love from Litfuse for review purposes. No compensation was received. I was not required to give a positive review; all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.(less)
"Fireside" was my first experience with author Susan Wiggs, and I have to say, I'm not impressed. Despite a good premise for the plot and a decent eff...more"Fireside" was my first experience with author Susan Wiggs, and I have to say, I'm not impressed. Despite a good premise for the plot and a decent effort at redeeming plot twists, this book as a whole doesn't merit even a mediocre rating.
The first problem I had with "Fireside" was its use of similes. Yes, illustrative language is important to set the scene, but it shouldn’t be so conspicuous and formulaic, not to mention overly abundant. Plus, they're almost all references to baseball! I understand why - Bo Crutcher is a minor league player hoping to join the Yankees, and his romantic interest, Kimberly van Dorn, is his PR coach - but it felt like the writer pitched in a baseball analogy every chance she got (pun intended).
My second complaint is the sudden intrusion of the secondary plot line. In the middle of chapter 9, the storyline switches focus without warning to a completely new set of characters, and jumps back into the main plot just as abruptly. Ten chapters later, the two threads are tenuously connected, but soon the secondary plot line is dropped again and never returns. Obviously, this whole interlude is a setup for a later book in the series, but instead it only ostracizes those of us who haven't read the rest of the Lakeside Chronicles.
Finally, I couldn’t stand the inconsistencies in the main characters’ personalities; it destroyed their credibility and detracted from what could have been a very likeable cast. Bo's whiny attitude during their snowboarding lessons is a grating contrast to his otherwise playful, adventurous maturity. The demeanor of his 12-year-old son A.J. changes randomly from a bratty but insecure 5 year-old, to a sulky teenage rebel, to a world-weary old man. And at one point, steady, self-sufficient Kimberly inexplicably dissolves into uncontrollable tears - twice in one chapter! Perhaps these variances were meant to give the characters more depth, but it didn't work.
I did like the alternating viewpoints, shifting between Kimberly, Bo and A.J., and I found it interesting how the author dealt with issues like foster care, racism, and immigration. These elements and a few genuinely touching moments kept the book from being a total loss, but unless you've read the previous books in the series and just have to see what happens next, I would recommend leaving this one on the shelf.(less)
I really enjoyed reading a contemporary Amish fiction novel, since I'm more familiar with historical Amish fiction (á la Beverly Lewis), and getting a...moreI really enjoyed reading a contemporary Amish fiction novel, since I'm more familiar with historical Amish fiction (á la Beverly Lewis), and getting an idea of how the Amish community manages in an increasingly techno-centric world (who would have thought you'd see iPods mentioned in a book about the Plain folk?). Cindy Woodsmall's friendships within the Amish community have given her an insider's perspective of the Plain lifestyle, making her characters all the more authentic and intriguing.
I liked how the differences between Amish and "Englischer" were explored in terms of Cara's transition from the outside world into this an Amish community. It's easy to feel her frustration as she struggles to learn the language and live a simpler life.
I was also intrigued by the contrasts in several father/daughter relationships. For example, Sylvia and her father get along well enough but he doesn't really treat her as an adult who can make her own decisions. The relationship between Cara and her father, Trevor, is even more strained - a good basis for exploring the main themes of grace and forgiveness. And in contrast we have the strong, affectionate bond between Lena and her father Israel.
The one thing I didn't like about Harvest of Grace was, as a result of having so many characters and so many subplots to tie together, it's sometimes to keep track of everything. The author transitioned smoothly between chapters and viewpoints, but I couldn't help feeling a little ostracized for not having read the previous books. It also ended somewhat abruptly, but all the plot threads tied up neatly and left me with a happy, satisfied feeling.
True Courage might just be the best of Dee Henderson's "Uncommon Heroes" series (it's actually been reprinted with the title Kidnapped as a stand-alon...moreTrue Courage might just be the best of Dee Henderson's "Uncommon Heroes" series (it's actually been reprinted with the title Kidnapped as a stand-alone novel unrelated to the series). Unlike the previous three, True Courage centers on an FBI agent as opposed to a military man, and after a short prologue to set the scene, it doesn't waste any time jumping into the action.
In some ways, it's classic Henderson style - romantic, suspenseful and you just know it's got to have a happy ending. The characters' faith in God's plan is clear, even as they occasionally struggle with trusting Him. It's inspirational and heart-warming without being overly pious or sappy.
It's the element of mystery, though, that makes it one of Henderson's best. While her other novels always have a something to solve, in True Courage she takes the reader through ups and downs, false answers and plot twists that keep you guessing until the very last chapter. This one goes on my "keepers" shelf for sure.(less)