Monday, March 24, 2014

Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin

Quilts of Love, Book 16

Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it. At first, it’s just a way to fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden Kanzinzki, is away fighting in World War II.

Yet when Maybelle discovers that the quilt is made from scraps of material that can be traced back through her family heritage, the project is suddenly much more important. Then word comes that Holden is missing in action, and with little else to do, Maybelle clings to the quilt as much as to the hope that her husband is still alive. As neighborhood friends gather around Maybelle to help her through the unknown days and nights ahead, it is the quilt that becomes a symbol of her unflagging belief that Holden will return—to her, to their home, and to their quilt-covered bed.

My Review:
The premise of the story is a good one. Maybelle is a woman without many talents; however, her best friend, Doris, seems to be able to do most anything. There is a good bit about quilting, and a small group of women comprise a quilting bee. The quilt fills the long hours while the ladies wait for their husbands to return from the war.

I did not enjoy this one. The slow pace of the novel frustrated me. It is repetitious. For example, the phrase, "Loose lips sink ships" is mentioned five times! In addition, better editing would weed out grammatical errors like, "... Logan approach Maybelle" (173).

Discussion questions are included.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Abingdon Press for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

A Southern Novel of Second Chances

From a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family. Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line. But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long hidden secrets surface.

Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama. Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all. But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief.

This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God. Though our earthly family can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father brings freedom to those long held captive through His mercy and grace.

My Review:
Talk about a dysfunctional family! The Harlan clan defines the word. This is a dark tale of rape and incest--the opposite of a fluffy read. Based on the biblical story of Tamar who was raped and told to keep it quiet, one of the characters suffers years of abuse while heads are turned away. With no one to comfort her, she thinks less and less of herself.

Chapters are written in first-person with the voices of two characters: Anniston (Anni) and Comfort. By writing with this two-narrator structure, the author allows the reader to see the story from two perspectives. I liked this and thought it helped me dig into the "meat" of the novel. I felt closely to both characters.

Discussion questions are included along with several Southern recipes. It might be a good choice for a book club to read, followed by a supper using the recipes found at the book's end.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and David C. Cook for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Distortion by Terri Blackstock

Moonlighters Series #2

Juliet Cole’s life has been dismantled by the murder of her husband. She doesn’t know who—or what—to trust when everything she has believed to be true about her marriage has been a lie. When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is gunned down in a dark parking lot before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning. When she’s finally allowed to return home to break the news to her boys, she hears a voicemail that takes the situation from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack. "Mrs. Cole, we know you have access to the supply and the money. If you don't turn fifty million over to us and give us the codes, then you'll be burying more family members."

Suddenly, Juliet realizes that she and her children could be in danger. She teams up with her sisters and PI Michael Hogan to dig into the sham Bob has been living for years. The more she learns, the worse the betrayal. A drug trafficking history, a fortune in cash, and a secret family all emerge to turn Juliet’s belief system on its head, and threaten the things she loves. Are she and her sisters skilled enough as sleuths to get to the truth?

My Review:
Terri Blackstock knows how to make me hold my breath! Even though this fast paced suspense novel kept me flipping pages, I found myself anxious to read even faster. What a good read! It kept my full attention, and I never suspected the ending.

I immediately connected with the character Juliet Cole. Poor woman; she witnesses her husband, Bob, murdered. She actually sees the killer! As the police investigate, her world continues to crash down around her as she copes with ever-growing ugly revelations about the husband she dearly loved and thought she knew. However, Juliet is a strong woman, and she dedicates herself to helping the police and the FBI solve this crime.

I especially enjoyed the part where Juliet wonders if Bob was a Christian. "Could he have been a Christian and still been involved in drug trafficking? Could he have truly loved God and still done something that would devastate so many lives?" (304)

I highly recommend this one.

Discussion questions are included.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my copy.