Monday, June 27, 2011

Bridge to a Distant Star by Carolyn Williford

It All Comes Tumbling Down

As a storm rages in the night, unwary drivers venture onto Tampa Bay’s most renowned bridge. No one sees the danger ahead. No one notices the jagged gap hidden by the darkness and rain. Yet when the bridge collapses vehicles careen into the churning waters of the bay below.

In that one catastrophic moment, three powerful stories converge: a family ravaged by their child’s heartbreaking news, a marriage threatened by its own facade, and a college student burdened by self doubt. As each story unfolds, the characters move steadily closer to that fateful moment on the bridge. And while each character searches for grace, the storms in their lives loom as large as the storm that awaits them above the bay.

When these characters intersect, they also collide with the transforming truth of Christ: Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.

My Review:
I remember when Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapsed. It was a horrible disaster. The author uses this historical experience as the setting for the shared conclusion of three separate stories about three distinct families. The stories converge to reveal a miraculous conclusion to this tragedy.

The novel is divided into three books, giving a feel of three short stories that dovetail at the contrived finish.

Characters are well-rounded, but I have a hard time with so many sentence fragments.

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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen

Ariel Baxter has just moved into the neighborhood of her dreams. The chaos of domestic life and the loneliness of motherhood, however, moved with her. Then she meets her neighbor, Justine Miller. Justine ushers Ariel into a world of clutter-free houses, fresh-baked bread, homemade crafts, neighborhood playdates, and organization techniques designed to make marriage better and parenting manageable.

Soon Ariel realizes there is hope for peace, friendship, and clean kitchen counters. But when rumors start to circulate about Justine’s real home life, Ariel must choose whether to believe the best about the friend she admires or consider the possibility that “perfection” isn’t always what it seems to be.

A novel for every woman who has looked at another woman’s life and said, “I want what she has,” She Makes It Look Easy reminds us of the danger of pedestals and the beauty of authentic friendship.

My Review:
In a dream neighborhood, the grass always seems greener. Justine lives a perfect life, in a perfect neighborhood--similar to Bree of Desperate Housewives. Ariel, new to the EssexFalls, and desperate to make new friends, strives to be just like Justine==at first. But then, the plot takes a left turn, and serious decisions must be made.

I love the moments of humor. Ariel and her typically energetic three sons are delightfully written. There were humorous episodes such as when the boys played with the "rockets" they found in Ariel's bathroom cabinet. It is easy to understand how a child might imagine a tampon is a rocket.

I agree with an important thought from this novel. Don't waste time wishing for what you do not have; live in the moment by counting your blessings. I have found this quite effective in realizing my happiness.

This is one I recommend. Included is an interview with the author, discussion questions, and recipes, including one for Play Dough.

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.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chasing Sunsets by Eva Marie Everson

A Cedar Key Novel
Sometimes you get a second chance at your first love.

Kimberly Tucker's life hasn't turned out the way she thought it would. A divorced mother of two, Kim resents her ex-husband for moving on with his life and living it up while she struggles to understand what went wrong. When her sons end up spending five weeks of summer vacation with their father, Kim's own father suggests a respite in the family vacation home on tiny Cedar Key Island. As Kim revisits her childhood memories and loves, she soon discovers that treasures in life are often buried, and mistakes--both past and present--become redeemable in God's hand.

Readers will be swept away to an island retreat where they walk alongside Kim as she discovers that God's answers may not come easily, but they do come.

My Review:
Here's your summer read! Although I live in Florida, I've never been to Cedar Key. However, after reading this delightful book, I feel as if I've just spent a pleasurable vacation there.

I truly enjoyed this contemporary novel. The plot is told in pieces using flashbacks. I like putting the pieces together to form a whole. The characters are well-formed, and the reader will not want to put this book down.

Something to watch for, however, immediately following the end of this story, which concludes on page 368 is a brief introduction on pages 369-373 to the author’s next book, titled Seeking Sunrise, which tells Patsy’s story. This caught me by surprise and at first confused me. I mention it so that you won't be confused.

Thank you to Donna Hausler at Baker Publishing Group for my copy.

Available June, 2011, at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

Three Southern sisters with nine marriages between them--and more looming on the horizon--travel to St. Simons Island to empty their late grandmother’s house. Ginger, the eldest, wonders if she’s the only one who hasn’t inherited what their family calls “the Grandma Gene”--the tendency to enjoy the casualness of courtship more than the intimacy of marriage. Could it be that her sisters are fated to serially marry, just like their seven-times wed grandmother, Lillian Irene Harper Winslow Goldstein Carey James Bobrinski Gordon George?

It takes a “girls only” weekend, closing up Grandma’s memory-filled beach cottage for the last time, for the sisters to unpack their family baggage, examine their relationship DNA, and discover the true legacy their much-marrying grandmother left behind.

My Review:
No one writes special twists better than Angela Hunt. Relationships of three sisters are tackled in this Christian fiction novel. Each chapter is written in the point of view of one of the three sisters: Ginger, the first-born organized one; Penny, the flirt; and Rose, the baby, who carries a deep longing. Each sister hides behind some insincerity; all are revealed at the satisfying end.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I love, love, love Angela Hunt! She never disappoints. As a first-born, I connected right away with Ginger; I admired her, and later, I cried with her. Perhaps you will connect with Ginger or with another sister. I'll bet you see a part of yourself in one of them.

This would make a super choice for a beach book, or a book club title. Included is a Reading Group Guide, and a Q&A interview with the author. I sincerely recommend this book.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hope Rekindled by Tracie Peterson

Striking A Match Series 3

At long last, Deborah Vandermark is preparing for her own wedding...but the groom suddenly goes absent. Tragedy has befallen Christopher's family in Kansas City, upsetting the doctor's future with Deborah. With five siblings now under his care, can he return to Texas and impose a ready-made family on Deborah?

Deborah herself finds her resolve faltering as her fears about marriage and career start to overwhelm her. How can she marry and be a mother to Christopher's siblings, and still be able to pursue her work and training as a physician? When an old adversary reveals a contract that may spell ruin for Vandermark Logging, Deborah's life seems to be spiraling out of control. How can God possibly work this for good? And can Christopher and Deborah find a way to claim the future they long to share when so much stands in their way?

My Review:
How nice it is to renew my acquaintance with the characters of Striking A Match Series. The Vandermark family reminds me of the Waltons. They loved each other and stick together through rough times, all the while trusting in God.

Deborah and Christopher are the central characters in this volume; they are young and in love. Therefore, there's plenty of romance. In addition, the novel is laced with action, mostly caused by the White Hand of God, a group similar to the KKK and an evil man, hungry for revenge.

Most should enjoy this one.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Bethany House for my copy.

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

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