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Author Archive for Gloria

Redneck Debutante by Jenny Hammerle

Friday, April 18th, 2014

    Redneck Debutante is Jenny Hammerle’s debut novel in YA fiction from Oak Tara Publishers. It’s a clean, simple read about a fifteen-year-old girl who is forced to leave her Palm Beach home and private school for the Florida countryside and a public high school of 2500.
    First, I didn’t even know Florida had farms and ranches, certainly not big ones of thousands of acres.  Second, the lifestyle of the rich, even the rich with assets momentarily seized by the government, blew me away. Blew me away. Yes, I repeated that on purpose. The affluence of Rachael’s family, their friends in the city, and their new friends and family in the country stunned me.
    The driving force of the plot of this novel is the romance between Rachael and her steady boyfriend of six months from Palm Beach, Colten, and the new neighboring cowboy, Travis.
    What I liked about this novel. Travis. Can’t help it. I’ll pick a cowboy over an Englishman any day of the week.  But, in truth, I liked them both and that enabled me to feel Rachael’s tension in her attraction to both of them as well. I liked that the story wasn’t cliche to the set up of premise of rich girl sent to the country. Rachael remained well-liked and accepted both with her old and new friends. I liked that she didn’t hide the family issues that had led to her current situation. I liked Rachael, trying new things, trying to be an encouragement to her friends, trying to remain true to her commitment to Colten, seeking her parents for advice.
    What I was ambivalent toward: the affluence, the dance squad (I would have rather spent more time with Rachael while she lifted weights with the guys), and the continuous teenaged pressure and discussion of who was “dating” whom. I accepted these as part of the genre.
    What I missed was Jesus. I’m pretty sure my fav Travis knew Him and knew Him well enough to draw strength from Him because that could be seen in Travis’ actions. But Rachael seemed to have a shallow knowledge of Christ and none of the trials in the story helped her gain any depth. That, of course, didn’t bother me until the climax.
    So Redneck Debutante is one of those stories that I enjoyed the entire way to the end and then wanted a different ending. What I must always try to remember in series of this type is that Rachael will continue to grow as the reader follows one of her friends on her romantic journey in the next book. The other point I try to remember is that Christian writers have different parts in sharing the Gospel and Jenny’s story could be laying groundwork for more in depth discussions to come.
    Yes, I recommend Redneck Debutante for teens looking for a light read that encourages them to be brave in the face of change, to be honest, to be pure, and to be loyal to their friends, old and new.

Shadowed Lights by Ella M. Kaye

Friday, March 14th, 2014

For Seek Truth Read Fiction blog purposes, I mention that romance novel, Shadowed Lights by Ella M. Kaye, is not written from a Christian worldview. But I want to review it here because it does what I have always enjoyed about romance novels and puts the hero in the Savior position and allegorically shares the love of Jesus through the romantic love of a man and woman.

Delaney Griffin, has some social issues. Big social issues. To survive her work day, she needs quiet at home, but since Hurricane Sandy, her sister's family has taken up residence in Delaney's house. Quiet isn't a possibility. Nor is dancing, her one physical and emotional outlet. So Delaney spends more time outdoors at the wildlife refuge, cleaning her beloved coastline.

Eli Forrester, construction worker, has traveled to New Jersey to help clean and rebuild after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Due to union issues, he can work only so many hours at his day job. Away from family and friends, he finds his evenings empty until he meets Delaney down by the ocean.

Shadowed Lights is a traditional romance where the characters take a some time to get to know each other and deal with their internal conflicts — though Delaney's issues challenge Eli's patience.

What I liked about this novel: Eli. A sweetheart. A guy who likes to talk and wants to understand what motivates Delaney. Still a man's man, he is masculine in the ways he processes the world and responds to Delaney's fears. I liked Delaney's internal conflict. It was fresh and complex. The chemical imbalance hit her as a young teen and strengthened into a social disorder which debilitated her with thoughts of what others, everyone, thought about her. And telling herself she didn't care, didn't help. She was afraid of everything and nothing. This was an interesting, new problem for me to read about, and from it came an interesting, empathetic heroine.

What I missed, of course, was the spiritual element and Delaney's complete healing. But Eli's steadfast love and her response to his love were enough for me to believe in the happy ending for them.

Well-constructed romance. Easy to read, easy to follow. Clean writing. Engaging characters. Enjoyable read.

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Categories : What I've Read

Terror on Tybee Island by Deborah Malone

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Terror on Tybee Island is a Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery, third in the series by Deborah Malone. This is my first Trixie Montgomery story, but the novel was written in such a way that it was easy to figure out needed tidbits from the earlier stories.

Trixie Montgomery and family (great aunt, mom, and best friend) come for a working vacation on Tybee Island to visit her mom's friend who owns a bed and breakfast there. Soon, a murder is discovered, and Trixie is once again on a quest to clear a friend's reputation.

What I liked: the setting. The bed and breakfast, the island, the descriptions of Savannah, Georgia. I liked the long list of quirky characters. Always a good thing for cozy mysteries. A list of suspects. I liked Trixie's heart and her desire to help, her relationship with her mom, her nana, and her best friend, Dee Dee. And I enjoyed Trixie's voice/humor as she tells the story.

What I would have liked to have seen more of: clues. Honest clues. Red herrings. Interviews that added to the puzzle instead of rehashing known facts. Some chance of being able to connect the dots. Then, I really wish that Trixie would have been able to connect the dots, too. That's cozy mystery to me. Even if the reader cannot figure out the truth, the amateur detective does. So that was my biggest disappointment with the story.

Other things I noted throughout the story — lots of eating. smiley Napping every day, though the characters were on vacation and I don't think Trixie was permitted to awake on her own even once. One thing that I probably would have known if I had read the series from the beginning was the age of the characters. Since we were dealing with three generations, I didn't want to picture Trixie much older than fifty because that would have put Nana close to ninety — and her love interest was supposed to be close to her age, yet the amateur sleuths didn't seem to expect him to be retired — so the age thing played through my head the entire novel.

Terror on Tybee Island is a fast, clean read. Enjoyable characters to the end. I'll venture with Trixie again.

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Categories : What I've Read

The Other Side of Darkness by Linda Wood Rondeau

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

The Other Side of Darkness is a cross between women's fiction and suspense from Harbourlight Books. Linda Rondeau builds well-motivated characters from her heroine, Samantha Knowles, to her villain, Harlan Styles, convicted murderer, to the coworkers, love interests, and new friends of Haven, Massachusetts. Linda deepens each character at the right moment to keep the reader interested in all of their fates.

NY Assistant District Attorney Sam Knowles has given her life to putting criminals behind bars. She lives with a coworker, accepts her boss as her father figure, and has long ago given up her teenaged faith in Jesus as worthy to be worshiped. She worships the justice system.

Brow-beaten into taking a vacation she doesn't believe she needs, Sam leaves NY for a ski resort — but takes a side road into the face of a moose. Surviving the car accident, she is released from the hospital to take up residence in the town of Haven. Cute EMT Zack Bordeaux might have had a part in her decision to stick around.

Despite her own secrets, Sam is soon caught up in the hermit life of landscape artist, Jonathan Gladstone, and his ancestral home, Dawn's Hope. But life won't give her time for a vacation, and the justice system once again spills into her momentary peace.

What I liked about this story: the hyacinths and the spiritual play they had in the story. I liked Sam's confusion with the two new men in her life. And as I mentioned early I liked the depth to all the characters. I liked that there was sufficient motivation for Sam's bosses to make the choices they did — though like Sam, I wasn't impressed with their choices.

What I didn't like in this story is completely personal and not something I think would bother another reader: Leon, one of the boarders at her temporary home, was too quirky for me, and I couldn't grasp her ease and acceptance of him. And I didn't care for how Sam dubbed her friend, Justine, as preachy when I found the girl concerned for Sam's spiritual well-being. Must be the exhorter in me. smiley

For years to come, in my mind, I will visit with these characters and give them the lives that I want them to have from the end of novel onward.

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Categories : What I've Read

Michelle Sutton’s Surprise Love

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Surprise Love by Michelle Sutton is a contemporary romance from Desert Breeze Publishing. Kami Garrett, ex-rodeo star and current riding coach meets Bryan Miller, would-be professional baseball player and Aston Kutcher look-alike, and finds herself instantly attracted after years of keeping to herself.  Spice is added to the mix through Kami’s cousin, Mindy, a bipolar woman who finds her worth in sexual conquests, and Bryan’s roommate for baseball tryouts, Will.

Kami and Bryan’s love develops at a reasonable rate through outings that didn’t turn out the way our couple intended and a few dates which allow for some conversation of family, pasts, interests, and future goals.

Michelle adds plenty of action to keep the reader engaged in the plot and guessing about how things will turn out, particularly for the secondary characters.

Surprise Love has Michelle’s unique expression of young characters trying to figure out who God is and He is to them. But there are spiritual depths to be found when we read that Kami has vowed, “Never again would she allow her heart to be manipulated.” And Bryan brashly claims, “He wanted more out of life than just baseball.  So much more.”

Of course, he gets what he desires – Michelle Sutton writes true romance where the reader can count on this one staple: the guy gets the girl at the end.  The rest is a surprise.  Surprise Love.

Scouts’ Pride by Michelle L. Levigne

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Okay, folks, this is my last review written from the writer's retreat at Keuka Lake. I finished reading Scouts' Pride this morning and I'm reviewing it this noon, and that catches me up from reviews since February.

The scout in Scouts' Pride are Ian Fieran, protagonist from Azuli Eyes. The pride in Scouts' Pride is Kay'li Fieran, Ian and Miranda's daughter. The book covers some 16-20 years, depending on if we measure in standard years, the growing years of Kay'li.

Because of the time period covered, the story is presented in highlighted snippets of the important parts of Kay'li's life. The plus of that was there weren't dull moments, the negative was that certain aspects felt unfinished because the reader didn't get to hear about the follow through. (One example that sticks in my mind is the stolen leaper ship and what became of it.)

But by the end, I am fully committed to Kay'li's life and her purposes and the task before her for book 3.

This book is spiritually lite in how the characters express their faith, with only a passing nod to Fi'in (Creator God), but has enough issues and topics presented for the reader to see real, spiritual ramifications played out in a science fiction world.

Azuli Eyes by Michelle L. Levigne

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Azuli Eyes is science fiction/adventure from Oak Tara Publishers. Michelle Levigne opens with a quick foreword to orient a new reader into her Commonwealth Universe, then jumps into the Chorillan Cycle series by introducing Scout Captain Ian Fieran and a bit of his world among the scouts and leapers.

Michelle's world stays one step ahead of me until we settle on the planet Chorillan and I meet teacher, Miranda Rialton. I engage with her and immediately the things that are important to her become important to me. Understanding Wildings. Saving them. Saving individual children. Uncovering the plot that's in play to keep the planet from being settled as it should.

And then the Azuli, sentient wolves, are introduced.

Since I love fantasy, the hard spots in this novel were the science fiction aspects rather than being in a new world. But Michelle didn't make them so important that a non-tech wouldn't be swept into the emotion of the mission.

I happily move on to book 2, Scout's Pride.


Gone South by Meg Moseley

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Gone South by Meg Moseley is contemporary Christian fiction from Multnomah Books. I read this book for ACFW book club last month and enjoyed it in a lot of aspects, considering, as you all know by now, women's fiction is not my favorite.

Tish McComb was a delightful character and she carried this book for me.  I wanted to see her find happiness and acceptance and contentment. The male lead, George Zorbas, grew on me as he stepped out and challenged himself to live out his faith. The heart-breaker character was young Mel, homeless, sincere, and in desperate need of help from someone who could forgive her past choices. But as the story progresses, the reader realizes that Mel was simply doing the best she could in a world that didn't live by the same code she did.

I wanted to mother and mentor Mel, and perhaps that made me dislike Mel's parents all the more. Truly nasty characters, though I did dredge up some compassion for the mom.

This book was a lot about life in the south, ancestors, expectations, misunderstandings, slander, appearances, hoping for something different but finding your same self in the new place.  It was about prodigals and God's amazing love. It was about trusting God in uncontrollable situations.

I would have liked to have seen characters play out their faith on the page a little more than this story offered, but the spiritual truths lie in the storyline if you're game to seek them out.


Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Against the Tide is historical fiction from Bethany House. It's a well written, engaging story. I loved the female lead, Lydia Pallas, from the moment she stepped on the page as a child.

This story may have been categorized as historical romance because the romantic thread played a huge role throughout the story, but the historical aspects, particularly Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup added depth to an exciting storyline.  I enjoy learning historical facts and the legality of opium in children's "over the counter" drugs wasn't something I was aware of.

Lydia works for the Department of the Navy as a translator in an office of men. Her boss, Admiral Fontaine, appears first on the page larger-than-life as her protector and guide, but Elizabeth Camden reveals him later as human as the rest of us in his weaknesses.

Bane (Alexander Banebridge) has some bad boy mystique when he shows up, tweaking Lydia's need for order and preciseness, and because the Admiral was so admirable I wasn't immediately sure who the romantic lead was going to turn out to be. Just as a fun aside — the moment I knew Bane was going to win Lydia's heart was when I found out Bane's heart already belonged to the Lord.

What I liked about Against the Tide: all the flirting scenes between Bane and Lydia, the bad guy creepiness, the Mrs. Winslow opium aspect, the translation work, the spy parts, the Notorious moment near the end.

About the only thing I didn't like was how long it took Bane to make contact with Lydia when she was undercover.

I recommend this book for all readers of Seek Truth. Read fiction. I'm sure you'll find something delightful within its pages.


Curse Bearer by Rebecca P. Minor

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Curse Bearer, Book 1 in the Risen Age Archive series, is Christian fantasy published by Written World Communications.

This is "an epic tale of curses and miracles, where headstrong ignorance creates bondage, and the desire to serve offers freedom." It's an engaging story with a lot of spiritual depth.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Danae Baledric, the eldest daughter of the local apothecary, lives in a town that has been overthrown by the enemy for so long that the people have little to no resistance left in them. After Danae's father is poisoned (in some fashion) by a knife creating a flesh wound that won't heal, Danae sets out on her quest to find answers and bring back a cure.

The journey contains Patrons and elves and an evil that hunts her. I particularly liked the spiritual depth and allusions in this novel.  The Creator God of this created world is called Creo which at least harkened my mind back to Creator every time I read a reference to him.  The fight of good versus evil showed the forces of darkness, and how Danae defaulted to darkness when she really thought she served herself.  I love to see such truths shown in fiction.

In true fantasy style, this is book one, and the story continues in the books to follow.  I intend to follow. If you read the Curse Bearer, I suspect you will too.