Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review: Waiting for Morning

Waiting for Morning is Book Two in The Brides of Last Chance Ranch series by Margaret Brownley. In this book, we meet Molly Hatfield, a young woman doing all she can to make life good for her 14-year-old brother, Donny, who was paralyzed in an accident as an infant. When the town where Molly and Donny live burns to the ground, Molly answers an ad, applying to be Eleanor Walker’s heiress. All she has to do to inherit the Last Chance Ranch is learn everything there is to know about ranching and agree never to marry.

Enter Caleb Fairbanks, the new doctor in town. (Also Lucy’s younger brother from one of Brownley’s other books, A Vision of Lucy. I loved that Brownley worked him in!) Recruited by Ms. Walker to serve as a veterinarian for her horse, he meets Molly and Donny en route to the ranch. His offer to help Donny learn to be more independent is met with resistance, suspicion, and a touch of hostility.

To learn how it all works out, you’ll need to read Waiting for Morning. I’m happy to recommend this light-hearted series. (Note: Reading the books in order is not absolutely necessary. References are made to the previous book, but Molly’s story is hers alone.) I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Sisterchicks in Gondolas

I’ve been meaning to get to the Sisterchicks series by Robin Jones Gunn for some time now, so I was thankful when Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers sent a complimentary copy of Sisterchicks in Gondolas for my review. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this series, but I like what I found. Sisterchicks in Gondolas is actually the sixth book in the series, but each book stands alone, telling the story of two women travelling together. In the book I read, sisters-in-law Jenna and Sue travel to Venice, Italy to cook for a men-in-ministry retreat. They live in a refurbished palace, sleep on the roof, become acquainted with several townspeople, and sample gelato all over the place.

The story has a simple and light-hearted feel, yet Jenna and Sue both carry deep pain. The message of healing, forgiveness, and starting anew is subtle, but profound. I loved the way Gunn delivered it.

I also loved reading about Jenna and Sue’s adventure through the historic town, their daily discoveries, communication struggles, and means of finding fun. I plan to soon read some of the other books to learn what Gunn has other Sisterchicks up to. I'm happy to recommend Sisterchicks in Gondolas to you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Review: Right Where I Belong

Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee is the third in a series, of sorts, for middle and early high school age girls. The three books contain independent stories, yet share characters and some settings. Right Where I Belong is the story of Natalia, a high school senior from Spain whose father has just divorced his third wife in favor of yet another. Rather than share life with a potential new stepmother, Natalia decides to move to the states with Maureen, the woman her father divorced. Maureen is also the person who led Natalia to the Lord, so Natalia is hoping Maureen will help her grow in faith. There are many surprises in store for Natalia in Tampa, Florida, USA.

Like the other two books in the series, Right Where I Belong has many similarities to a familiar Bible story—in this case, the story of Ruth. I wouldn't say it’s a contemporary version of Ruth’s story, though. It’s just fun to compare and contrast. Like Ruth, Natalia makes an unexpected choice, ultimately choosing to follow God first of all—always. I’m happy to recommend this book which I received from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for this honest review.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Book Review: The Girl in the Glass

I spent a day in Florence once—and thought it was enough. But, after reading The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner, I’d like to go back—for about a month—with Meissner as my tour guide! Her book does exactly what her main character, a travel book editor, hopes a potential author’s book will do: it makes you feel you’ve been there if you haven’t and long to go back if you have—with a whole new appreciation for all that is there.

As in Meissner’s other recent works, this book gives the reader two stories in one, alternating between a contemporary story and a fictionalized account of an historical character, in this case Francesca Eleonora (Nora) Orsini, granddaughter of Cosimo I de Medici. Nora's story is of her tragic childhood in Florence during the Renaissance. The contemporary story is shared by two women, Meg Pomeroy and Sophia Borelli, whose lives intersect in Florence and have much in common with Nora of the Renaissance. Together, Meg and Sophia must learn, as Nora did, the true meaning of renaissance.

I was totally drawn into the stories in this book and thought they all ended perfectly. Not only will this book appeal to those who enjoy great novels, but also to art enthusiasts, travelers, and those with an interest in the human mind. I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending a complimentary copy for this honest review.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Book Review: Lovelier Than Daylight

Lovelier Than Daylight, the third installment in the Saddler’s Legacy series by Rosslyn Elliott, was also my favorite. This story revolves around the Westerville Whiskey Wars of 1875 and 1879—though, for the purposes of her story, Elliott combined them into one event. In Elliott’s words:
“In this novel, people of faith grapple with difficult questions about the use and abuse of alcohol, questions that still cause controversy and divide families and churches. My aim was to depict all of these opinions and show how one family might have handled the decisions that faced them under the circumstances. I did not try to advocate one point of view or elevate one believer above another, but instead aimed to hold up a mirror to a historical event that still has the power to cause us to examine our moral choices.”
In my opinion, Elliott achieved her aim and did so effectively. After reading this book, people on opposite sides of this fence will have much to discuss. This book will indeed make readers think.

Aside from that, the story itself is intense. On her way to college, Susanna Hanby stops to visit her sister only to learn that her sister has left her husband and abandoned her six children. She is missing and may even be dead. Susanna finds the children in two different orphanage-type homes. With the help of her aunt and uncle, Ann and Will Hanby (introduced in Book One of this series), Susanna must find a way to rescue the children and reunite the family.

In the meantime, aspiring reporter and brewery heir Johann Giere wrestles with career choices and struggles to earn Susanna’s respect. He longs to help her family, yet is hindered when she blames his family’s business for causing the troubles in hers. The tense situation in Westerville will either draw them together or drive them forever apart.

Thomas Nelson Publishers gave me a complimentary eCopy of Lovelier Than Daylight for this honest review. Readers who enjoy considering how complex issues can play out in life will find much to contemplate within the pages of this book.