Sunday, December 3, 2017

Fiction Review: Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

Having read all of Lisa Harris' previous Nikki Boyd books, I was disappointed that Nikki's saga with her sister's disappearance should come to an end in a book in which Nikki barely appears. For those who have not read the other books in the series, however, "Vanishing Point" will prove to be page-turner with no knowledge of the previous books required. Harris opts to solve the mystery of the Angel Abductor from the point of view of the detectives originally put on the case. Spanning the story over several years gives the reader ample time to get to know the characters and their dilemmas, from father troubles to sick relatives. The question of where God is in the midst of pain is posed and given a light, pat answer. And most of the story lines are wrapped up nicely. There's a bit of romance in there too. I enjoyed getting the overall picture of the long race to find the killer. But for readers invested in Nikki Boyd's character, the conclusion really does not satisfy. We can only hope for another book that fills the holes.

*Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart

My worry with a book like "31 Verses to Write on Your Heart" is that the verses will be taken out of context. I also have a difficult time with relating to and learning from short devotions. And while those were both still issues with Liz Curtis Higgs' book, I appreciated that she broke each verse apart to get to the truth behind each passage. But there was very little to take away from her memory verse tips for easier memorization. They all seemed cookie-cutter, straight from the book, obvious to me. Then again, I am not a great memorizer of Scripture (although I certainly wish I were!). For most readers, though, I could still recommend this book for its treatment of these important verses (many of which you will probably recognize - this book does not get its worth from originality).

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Fiction Review: Behind the Scenes

The previous book I read by Jen Turano was good, but not great. However, reading "Behind the Scenes," I could not put the book down. Even with a great portion of the book taking place in one evening, the story went at a quick pace. I loved the struggle behind a woman balancing her faith with the strength and ideals of a "modern" woman. Permilia Griswold secretly writes a society column for a major newspaper, using her wallflower status to her best advantage. But how does romance fit in with independence? Especially when death threats collide the two. Although the resolution to the thrilling page-turner was a bit odd and a slight let-down, Turano created likeable characters and ridiculously fun situations that most readers will love.

* Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Whole Bible Story

Why read a book like "The Whole Bible Story" when you can read the real thing? Does this book include extra historical background to make it worth reading? Not really, unless you count the occasional illustrative graphic. But you can find similar graphics in certain editions of the Bible. Is the book easier and more interesting to read? Not really. There are versions of the Bible that put the real text in every day language. Does the book sort the Bible story in a more chronological manner? Yes, but again there are Bibles out there that do the same thing. Sorry. I'm not sold.

Fiction Review: The Day The Angels Fell

I am anxious to read the next installment in this intriguing series by Shawn Smucker. The young adult novel, "The Day the Angels Fell" sets up a second fall from glory after Satan. One of the two angels guarding the tree of life tries to take the tree's power for himself, while the other angel becomes God's appointed destroyer of the tree every time it grows somewhere new. This time, the tree has grown in the yard of young Samuel Chambers, who has his own reasons to acquire the tree. 

Smucker's writing is slow and nostalgic, warm and inviting. It takes time to get used to his regular switches between present and past tense, and his writing isn't always the most fine-tuned, but it's descriptive and unique. Fans of young-adult fiction will find this book well worth the read.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Fiction Review: The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

I enjoy reading books by Melody Carlson because of her simple writing style and her ability to create the beginning of a good story. That's why I try to read her Christmas books each year. "The Christmas Blessing" is yet another feel-good, holiday story that can be ready in a day or two.

However, I'm getting tired of Carlson's neglect of any real character development. She is brilliant at setting up stories - in this case, a single mother and war widow (of sorts) leaves her baby in the manger of the father's parents, fearing for the child's life, but also fearful of admitting the child's true origins. But just when the opportunity opens for a show of redemption and love, Carlson brings her novella to a heartening and complete, but shallow conclusion.

The grandmother of the baby is portrayed as a woman with a somewhat hard heart, dealing with the loss of her son and unwilling to believe her son would steer away from the righteous path. Amelia, the mother of the child, struggles with her self-worth and unpleasant family background. The child's father is in a prisoner of war camp. And the grandfather is a strong, Christian man, in the perfect setup to lead his family under Christ. But we barely see the beginnings of the relationships and issues here. There's so much missed potential! The book description says, "Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma?" But the answer never really comes.

*Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fiction Review: The Mark of the King

"The Mark of the King" is one of those historical fiction books that is more planned out and spans a longer period of time, and because of that it requires more investment from the reader. It took me a while to finish reading this novel, but I found it a rewarding read.

The story takes place at a time when France was sending convicts and others to Louisiana to settle an claim land. Julianne Chevalier is a midwife condemned for the death of one of her clients. Forced to marry and over time in love with another man, she searches for the truth behind her soldier brother's disappearance. Meanwhile, she must deal with the harsh lifestyle of Louisiana and the injustices present there, particularly with the way native peoples are treated.

My only qualm with this book is that author Jocelyn Green chose to tell the story from multiple points of view that don't always last for longer than a chapter or two. It's a pet peeve of mine, and I much prefer a novel with consistent narration. However, Green's writing style attests  to detailed research and is captivating on its own terms.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.