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Archive for What I’ve Read – Page 2

Hidden in the Heart by Catherine West

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Women's fiction, ACFW book club book, Hidden in the Heart by Catherine West focuses on a number of topics — adoption, addiction, depression, divorce, and a bunch of other relational issues in families.

Protagonist, Claire Ferguson was hard to like at first, but seeing her at her lowest, gave me greater joy in her rise. My favorite secondary characters were, of course, Claire's husband, a man of tender patience, Claire's grandparents, though I knew they wouldn't come out stainless, and Darcie, living out her faith with courage.

There is a lot going on in this book, plot-wise and spiritually. Cathy did a good job of engaging my emotions, and I think I cried every time Claire's husband stepped on the page for at least the first 150 pages.

I don't want to talk about the plot too much and give away the tangled ending, so I'll just say, if you like women's fiction, if you like to see the needy and broken rise and win, if you like to have hope that God works in all things, and you like to see God glorified, you will like Hidden in the Heart.

Chasing Christmas by Steven Hunt

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Chasing Christmas from Harbourlight Books is an issue book (which I would call women's fiction except that the protagonist is male). The issue: suicidal depression. The cure: try to kill yourself and then let God take over your life.

This story opens with a bang as Teddy Whitaker guns his classic sports car into Dead Man's Curve. But God has other plans for Teddy. Instead of dying, he begins a fantastical journey, e.g. A Christmas Carol or The Shack, to learn the lessons God has planned for him.

Short bits of this book read more like a report on depression than a story, but I liked Teddy's wife and wanted to see him succeed for her sake. The daughter grew on me. Teddy was still pretty much a whiner even after his amazing experiences, but I don't know how much of that was his personality or his depression.

I liked the clever word play at the end. I was okay with the spiritual lessons. I'm not sure I was convinced Teddy had experienced them and truly made them his own, but I would think such an experience would stick with a person and he would revisit it often enough to continue learning the lessons until they settled deep, so I bought the happy ending.

I liked the ambiguity of the title, Chasing Christmas. I give this a thumbs up for creativity and teaching.

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse is another great fantasy read from Marcher Lord Press.

There is so much going on in the plot of this novel that I'm not even going to try to sum up. Protagonist Rowan has my empathy and encouragement from the beginning. The secondary characters are likewise engaging.  The bad guys are bad, and yet presented in the complex plot as not necessarily the ultimate bad guys. The magic is powerful and spiritually acceptable in its allusions to the truth of the ways of God.

The writing is clean and makes it easy to get lost in the story.

Yes, I not only enjoyed this book, but I think I'll read it again before I start book 2, Son of Truth.

Hide and Seek by H. L. Wegley

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Hide and Seek by H. L. Wegley is a suspense novel from Harbourlight Books. I thought this was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire story.

Lee Brandt is a man of vision who sees his company making serious mistakes that could soon turn into disasters, but his supervisors aren't interested in his speculation. When a security breach occurs, Lee is called in to discover the culprit.  But he needs someone with a little more computer expertise. So enter Jennifer Akihara.

I know some readers love the everyday, warted, characters best, but I love larger-than-life, the best in their field characters, and I loved Jennifer from the get-go. She gets right on board with what Lee needs, perhaps too efficiently, and soon they are on the run for their lives.

I liked the tension of the chase.  I liked the fast-paced writing.  I liked the varied settings within the story. And, I liked the slow-burn romance of extenuating circumstances drawing two people together faster than normal. I liked Lee's faith and the quiet, spiritual moments of reflection.

I know that I didn't catch all the scientific stuff, the details of the industrial espionage, or the bigger picture ramifications.  But I understood the danger to the hero and heroine and thrilled with them as they again and again made good choices to keep themselves alive.

Definitely a fun read.  Give it a try and see what you think about H. L. Hegley's Christian suspense.


The Unraveling of Wentwater by C.S. Lakin

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Fantasy from Living Ink Books, The Unraveling of Wentwater is the fourth book in the Gates of Heaven series by C. S. Lakin.
The people of Wentwater live under some heavy superstitions. But that's okay, it seems to work for them — for a time. Up on the mountain, the intellectuals of the academy look down on the villagers and their ways.
Justin, one of the few villagers invited up for education, is determined to make something of his life. Teralyn, daughter of professors, just wants to play music that touches people's hearts. The trouble begins when Justin's professor asks him to accompany Teralyn down to Wentworth for the music festival.

What I liked about this book:  Teralyn, the magic, the fairy tale behind the story. I liked Justin's struggle and the wickedness of the witch.
I struggled with the shifting spiritual theme, that I'm not sure I ever did get a firm grip on, and the distance I felt toward Fromer's character.

I know I've said this before that I need to go back and read the first two in this series … instead I keep going forward. You may like to give them a try from the beginning, but book 3 and 4 are stand alones.


Dawn Singer by Janalyn Voigt

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Dawn Singer is Christian fantasy from Harbourlight Books. This is pure fantasy with all the necessary elements to make it so. Janalyn Voigt creates a new, interesting world with a medieval, magical feel with plenty of new creatures and abilities. She has characters with secrets. She has good versus evil, and a quest for a noble cause.

The writing is clean and easy to follow.  The characters are empathetic and attractive. The ending … well, it is book one in the Faeraven series.  I look forward to reading book 2 soon.

Double Identity by K. Dawn Byrd

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Double Identity by K. Dawn Byrd is contemporary Young Adult fiction from Desert Breeze Publishing. The story premise opens with the Parent Trap — twins separated at birth by divorcing parents, but they have now found out about each other because the CA city girl twin must come live in Virginia with the mother and story protagonist while the father recovers from cancer surgery.

Dawn does one of those creative literary things by writing scenes in the protagonist's, Bree's, point of view in first person, and then switching to third person  for the scenes in her twin's, Cassie's, point of view. Boyfriend and bone of contention, Luke, gets a third person pov, too.

This is definitely a teen story with angst and drama and serious life issues such as learning to deal with a bipolar disorder. My biggest grumble was Luke's stupidity in the sense of "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame of me." But his foolishness caused more angst and tension.

The story continues in later books in the series.


Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Claiming Mariah, historical romance from Tyndale House, by Pam Hillman was a simple joy to read. The writing was clean, easy, not distracting me from the engaging story Pam laid out.

The backstory was up front — Slade Donovan knew Mariah Malone's father had stolen his father's share of their joint gold mine and then left him for dead. Slade's father hadn't died, but he never recovered either. As a drunk and a gambler, he was a deficient to his family until the day he died. Mariah knew her father had regrets — she was the one who had written the apology letter that had brought Slade to her front door. And so the romance begins with Slade insisting she give up the only home she's ever know to pay her father's debt.

If it were just Mariah, perhaps she could have packed her bag and moved on, but Mariah has responsibilities — her aged grandmother and her blind sister. She better remain on the ranch as housekeeper until Slade's mother and sisters arrive.

If there were plot holes or character slips in this story, I didn't catch them. The romance developed steadily. The bad guy kept getting worse. The situations became more desperate. The subplot of town slum children tugged at my emotions.  It was all good.

Thank you, Pam Hillman, for a delightful escape into another time and place.

Undercover Bodyguard by Shirlee McCoy

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Love Inspired Suspense, Shirlee McCoy’s is a good romanctic suspense with two likeable protagonists in bakery owner Shelby Simons and former SEAL turned security contractor, Ryder Malone.  Just his name sounds tough and capable. And so Shelby finds him – against her will – as she is adamant to remain independent for every need.

The plot progresses with the usual amount of dangers that keep our would-be lovers together and apart at appropriate stages.

I liked Shelby’s realistic response to grief and guilt. I liked the comfort Shelby felt when Ryder was close.  Good, straightforward romantic suspense.

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Teen fiction from Zondervan, The Fairest Beauty is Melanie Dickerson’s third in her fairytale series. For the first time, we get to revisit some characters whom we met in The Healer’s Apprentice, the parents of our intrepid hero, younger son Gabe.

The gist of this Snow White story is that Sophie has a wicked step-mother, a dead, loving father, a prince attempting to save her, and a cottage in the woods where seven misfits live. The twists are that the prince isn’t her betrothed, but her betrothed’s younger brother, her father isn’t dead – perhaps – but missing — perhaps, and Sophie no longer remembers that she is a princess, but believes that she is a servant girl.

I like Melanie Dickerson’s books and this is no exception.  I like the historical details she includes, especially about the Church and religious life at that time. I liked Sophie, her attitude, and her love for the underdog and her fellow servants. I liked the action during the escape from her stepmother.

What I wasn’t so fond of in this story was how the kids responded to their attraction to one another, and then to their prior commitments to others. But I was happy that it worked out for them in the end because I believed their love would survive and flourish.

Thanks, Melanie, for another enjoyable read.