May 20, 2014

Book Review: One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon

Back Cover: Independent single mom Claire Summers is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Workaholic Keith Watson is interested only in the bottom line--until a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk and changes everything.

As the executive assistant to a philanthropic businessman, Keith is used to fielding requests for donations. But the girl isn't asking for money. She wants help finding the long-lost son of a neighbor. As Keith reluctantly digs into this assignment in his usual results-oriented style, he has no idea how involved he and Claire will become--nor how unusual the results will actually be. Who could have guessed that a child's kindhearted request would bring love and hope to so many lives . . . including his own?

Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, fan favorite Irene Hannon offers this tenderhearted story that demonstrates how life is like lilacs--the biggest blooms come only after the harshest winters.

My Review: Irene Hannon is one of my favorite authors. Since my first introduction to her in 2011, I have impatiently waited for each new novel's publication. I thoroughly love her romantic suspense novels (and can't wait for October when Deceived releases),  I also find her contemporary novels enjoyable. One Perfect Spring is no exception. In this novel, Hannon interweaves the lives of two independent women with two men with baggage from the past - all because of a letter sent by a young girl. It's a novel of forgiveness, second chances, and hope for the future. I rooted for the characters, especially the young executive who I didn't really like at the beginning of the book. This character's change over the course of the book kept me turning the pages. One thing I like about Irene Hannon's books is the subtle twists she gives in the story line. Many novels, it is easy to predict what will happen just by reading the first few chapters. Not so with Hannon's novels. If you haven't read her work, I highly recommend you give her novels a try.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to readers of contemporary Christian romance.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Apr 28, 2014

Book Review: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

Back Cover: Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther

In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.

Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp's prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

My Review: This novel gripped me in a way that I did not expect. I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling of the story of Esther - on of my favorite characters in the Bible. Often, retellings stay so close to the Biblical account that they are completely predictable, but this story kept me flipping pages. I feared for the characters. I had to know what was going to happen to them. The plight of the Jews during WWII has had a profound impact on my understanding of that war. I think Breslin did an excellent job showing what life was like for them and the difficult decisions that the leaders of the ghettos were forced to make. Honestly, I wish that the events in this novel were true, instead of fiction. I don't want to give away the end of the story, but I wish there had been an Aric von Schmidt leading a transit camp. This novel is powerful, and I am sure to be thinking about this book for a long time to come.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to readers of historical fiction, especially those who enjoy stories set during WWII.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Apr 23, 2014

Book Review: What Follows After by Dan Walsh

Back Cover: In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy.And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.

For the past year, Scott and Gina Harrison have been living a lie. While they show up at family get-togethers in the same car, they've actually been separated for over a year. To keep up the charade, they've even instructed their sons, Colt and Timmy, to lie--to their grandparents, their teachers, and their friends.

Colt, for one, has had enough, so he hatches a plan. He and his little brother will run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents get back together. But when things go terribly, terribly wrong, Scott and Gina must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their marriage.

In this emotional story, bestselling author Dan Walsh takes you on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life--love, truth, and family. With profound insight into the heart of a hurting child, he reminds us that a time will come to look back on hard times and smile, because we'll know that what follows after . . . is not what we expected at all.

My Review: It's 1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis is in the forefront of everyone's mind. Everyone except a little boy locked in a dark closet. As a parent, the events of What Follows After were chilling. I can't imagine the heartache of having my child run away and then get kidnapped. Walsh paints a vivid picture of the heartache these people experience through their ordeal. He takes the reader on an emotional ride that will keep you flipping pages. This book is not my favorite Dan Walsh book, but it does rank highly. It is hard not to notice the counseling influence of Gary Smalley, even though he is not a co-author on this novel. There are scenes reminiscent of The Dance, as the lead male realizes his failings as a father and husband.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I highly recommend this book to readers of christian fiction and fans of Dan Walsh.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Apr 21, 2014

Book Review: Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Back Cover: This is a story about blood.
And love.
And the many things that lie between.

By her father's wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. As her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal parasite.

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

My Review: I have enjoyed each addition to Stengl's Tales of Goldstone Wood series. These books take the reader on epic adventures where good and evil collide. Without fail, these tales leave me turning the pages, eager to discover where the twisted plots will lead. Shadow Hand is no exception. This story mixes history with the present world in an unexpected way. While I enjoyed the story, I can only give this book four out of five stars because I never connected with the sniveling Foxbrush. His hero status was a bit too fantastic for complete enjoyment. Still, I was satisfied with the ending of this epic tale, and can't wait to read what Stengl has in store for us with her next book.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to readers of fantasy, but would highly suggest that you read the other books in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series first.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.