Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review: Never Let You Go

Poor Lexi! For seven years, she’s been acting as a single mom, trying to rebuild a safe and happy life for herself and her daughter. Working two jobs and sharing an apartment with her lifelong best friend who watches Molly in exchange for rent, Lexi is exhausted.

Suddenly, though, her past comes back to haunt her with a vengeance. Her husband returns as mysteriously as he disappeared, wanting to rebuild the relationship with his family. Her estranged mother interferes, pushing this to happen. The man who murdered her sister is up for parole, and the man who led her husband into the world of drug addiction and dealing threatens her daughter in an attempt to force her to testify on that man’s behalf.

A fairly new Christian, Lexi struggles desperately to understand where God is in the midst of these multiple threats, clinging to her daughter with determination to preserve and protect.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this book was hard to set down! Erin Healy’s first solo novel is intense; it was so fun to read. Yet the message of hope and forgiveness and restoration and God’s faithfulness through all His children face came clearly through at the book’s perfect end.

I’m happy to recommend this read. Thank you, Thomas Nelson, for sending a copy for my review.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Review: The Bridegrooms

Four sisters, their beaus, and a couple of baseball teams equal much confusion and chaos in this story set in the middle of the women’s suffrage movement. Vada, the oldest, longs to play the violin on stage. Her longtime boyfriend, the attorney, does. What he doesn’t do, though, is propose. When a baseball player from the visiting team, the Bridegrooms, hits someone in the stands with a ball, it brings the victim and members of both teams to Vada’s house where her father, the doctor, can care for the victim privately. An ambitious reporter is also drawn to the scene, and Vada finds herself with two suitors too many and wondering if Garrison’s proposal is worth waiting for.

Of course, Vada’s story is only one of four as each of the sisters finds her own place in the world and home for her heart. Hazel fears she’s too unattractive to be loved. Althea, mute by choice since her mother’s abandonment of the family, fears risking rejection again. Lisette, the self-absorbed flirt, surrounds herself with suitors at all times.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s strong on character development and historical interest. The storyline took a while to find, and I sometimes wondered about the relevance of some elements, yet the author wraps it all up neatly in the end. The reader’s guide in the back is helpful for further exploring the sisters’ minds and motivations, and, perhaps, the author’s message, too. If you like stories about sisters, like Pride and Prejudice or Little Women, you may enjoy this story, too.

Thank you Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending this book for my review.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review: Forget Me Not

I was a few chapters into this book when I realized I still didn’t know the main character’s name. Figuring I must have missed something, I skimmed back through. But no, I really didn’t know her name. I kept reading, trusting the author would reveal it in time. Then the character was kidnapped, presumably left for dead, and woke to realize she didn’t know her name either. Suddenly, it all made sense that nothing made sense. I was reading a story with many mysterious threads for the author to untangle, one at a time as I read to the end.

I really enjoyed this book!

Fans of Dee Henderson will enjoy it, too; Vicki Hinze and her styles are similar. Mystery, danger, suspense, and a hint of romance. Characters you can’t help but care about in a setting you’d like to visit—except for the danger and suspense. And Hinze has promised a sequel to tell the story of other characters introduced in this book. I’ll be watching for that! Can’t wait.

In this book, along with the great story, I loved how the main character remembered and clung to her faith though she’d forgotten everything else. How she practiced it and modeled it for others through all she endured was a beautifully written element in a hard-to-put-down book. Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for sending a copy for me to review.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Book Review: Everyone Communicates--Few Connect

If you are looking for a book about improving your communication skills, Everyone Communicates--Few Connect may be a good choice for you. Think of it as a basic text—Communication 101, perhaps. On its pages, leadership expert John Maxwell clearly outlines how to communicate effectively in order to truly connect with the people around you whether one-on-one, in a small group, or before an audience.

The book is divided into two sections of five chapters each. Connecting Principles tells the reader five important things to know about connecting with others. Connecting Practices gives practical advice for communicating more effectively. Each chapter ends with specific ideas for applying the information in the three settings mentioned above.

I really appreciated the simplicity of the book. Maxwell really does have a gift for communicating effectively. The book is presented in such clear outline form that, having read it, I can now go back to review key points as needed. Well-chosen words will quickly bring illustrations and explanations back to mind.

Not everything in the book rang true to me, but most of its pages delivered solid, practical advice. Parts of the book reviewed information available in most books on this subject, but I also found new ideas to try. If this is your goal, you may be pleased with this book.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book Review: Asking for Trouble

Though I usually post my Tyndale House reviews at Wildflower Thinking, this book was written for the people I meet here. If you are an Army wife or pastor's wife or in a position where you move a lot, and if you have a tween or teenage daughter, this book, the first in a series, was written for her. Other girls will enjoy it, too—I have no doubt. But this book's message is especially encouraging to girls faced with trying to find their place in strange places.

Fifteen-year-old Savannah Smith has just moved from Seattle, Washington to a suburb of London with her family. She misses old friends and is struggling to make new ones. She is learning how a whole new culture works and is often confused. She wants a really good friend, a guy who likes her for herself, a way to help others, a ministry, and a Wexburg Academy Times pen—the status symbol that shows the world she's a true reporter at last.

Sandra Byrd's storyline is a lot of fun, her characters and what they face are real, and her description of what it's like to be an American living in England is spot on. (I suspect she's been there and done that.) Savvy's family isn't perfect, but they are loving and supportive even as they struggle with their own challenges. Savannah, herself, is concerned with fashion and friends and fitting in, but she also wants to be true to herself and to God. She learns to pay attention to what's happening around her, to make wise and trusting choices, and to put the needs of others before her own, trusting God to teach her and show her His way. I enjoyed and recommend this book. Thank you Tyndale House for providing a complimentary copy for my review.