11 December 2012

A Path Toward Love by Cara Lynn James

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Katherine came home to forget her past. The last thing she expected was to find her future.

Young widow Katherine Osborne returns to her family’s rustic camp on Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Mountains. She’s determined to live a quiet life, but her socialite mother is equally determined to push her into a new marriage while she’s still young.

Andrew Townsend has known Katherine since they were children. An attorney who is successful, but not wealthy, he knows she is socially out of his reach. But he’s curious about what changed the free-spirited girl he once knew into this private, somber young woman.

Katherine has kept hidden the details of her unsuccessful marriage. When past sins come to light, she must turn to God for the courage to be honest. But how can she trust the God she feels has let her down? When she confides in Andrew, their relationship takes a dramatic turn into uncharted territory.

Amid impossible obstacles, two young people must learn to trust enough to walk the path that God has cleared for them. A path that leads to healing and restoration. A path toward love.

As a complete sucker for romantic historical fiction, this look into the life of the early 1900s piqued my interest in many ways. The expectations thrust upon Katherine by her parents and the society in which they abide seems absolutely alien in comparison to today’s world, and for a few moments, I stepped out of my time to stand alongside Katherine, imagining what it might be like to experience her challenges. While this novel is not terribly original in terms of its plot or characters, considering its fairly predictable (and perhaps a bit too easily accomplished) ending, I did enjoy reading it simply because it is a different world – a world of reputation and etiquette, prudent courtship and forbidden romance. A world of entertaining adventure. I would recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in romantic historical fiction, looking for a light read, and I truly appreciate BookSneeze for providing me with a free copy of this novel and the opportunity to review it.

12 April 2012

Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley

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Looking for a woman of good character and pleasant disposition willing to learn the ranching business in Arizona territory. Must be SINGLE and prepared to remain so now and forever more. Will be given ownership of ranch. –Eleanor Walker

Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney fled the city that banned her latest book for a fresh start at a cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory. She hopes ranching turns out to be as romantic as she portrayed it in her novels.

But what awaits her is a much harder life. There is no room for mistakes on a working cattle ranch in 1895, and Kate is ill-prepared for her new life. She quickly learns that dawn comes early… every day. But she is tenacious.

Having been abandoned by a string of men, Kate has no intention of ever marrying. But she didn’t expect to meet Luke Adams either. Luke awakens feelings inside Kate she doesn’t recognize, and his steady presence is a constant distraction. She has only written about love in the past, never known it herself. But her feelings for Luke stand in the way of all she has to gain if she is chosen as the heir.

Perhaps God brought Kate to the barrenness of the desert to give new life to her jaded heart.

Throughout the novel, Brownley does a beautiful job of developing the conflict Kate feels about her two choices. Though I had a pretty good guess about what was going to happen in the end, I remained on the edge of my seat until the final pages. It was not a complicated read by any means, but I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this novel – the western setting, the characters, the adventure, the romance. Brownley provided me with a much-needed break from present-day suburbia and taught me a bit about living on a ranch, allowing me to learn along with Kate. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in romantic historical fiction, particularly in the West, and I truly appreciate BookSneeze for providing me with a free copy of this novel and the opportunity to review it.

14 March 2012

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

Read the first chapter of
A Sound Among the Trees here.
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A house shrouded in time. A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak – and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

I did enjoy reading this tale of regrets and redemption. Though the story began a bit slowly, I have always been a sucker for historical fiction – and Meissner does a beautiful job of connecting the past with the present. I do wish that Susannah’s letters – which Marielle reads towards the end of the novel – had been more interspersed throughout the novel, integrated with the story of Holly Oak’s present women, rather than all in the same section. I enjoy more back-and-forth between past and present. Despite this, A Sound Among the Trees still left me satisfied in the end and I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a bit of historical fiction and intrigue.

14 February 2012

The Christian Zombie Killer's Handbook: Slaying the Living Dead Within by Jeff Kinley

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Ben Forman was just an ordinary guy, a young professional starting his first job and falling in love with his girlfriend. Living on the outskirts of a southern city, he didn't think the zombie activity so common in metropolitan areas would hit so close to home. But it was becoming clear that the mysterious infection reanimating the dead would soon be a worldwide epidemic.

Cutting-edge and culturally relevant, The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook is a unique combination of fiction and nonfiction. It delivers a fresh approach to sin, grace, and salvation, exposing the raging beast within us all, and how to overcome life as a zombie.

In a culture that is now obsessed with stories of zombies, vampires, etc., it is important to understand how to interact with these stories from a Christian perspective. Kinley’s The Christian Zombie Killer’s Handbook attempts to do just that. Using the fiction of the zombie narrative, Kinley explores a Christian’s experience with sin. When I first noticed this book, this premise captivated me. I really looked forward to reading it. Each section has two parts – the first a fictional account of Ben Forman’s experiences in a zombie-infested area, and the second a loosely-connected explanation of Christian theology in zombie-relevant language. However, as I began reading, I quickly lost interested. The narrative was flat and cheesy, while the theology – although truthful in many ways – did not challenge me with new material. I felt that Kinley’s use of allegory, meant to connect the two parts, was a stretch, manipulating every aspect of the zombie narrative in order to fit neatly with the biblical narrative. Devoid of the clever wit and authentic engagement I was hoping for, this book left me unsatisfied in the end and I cannot say that I would recommend it to a friend. However, I do appreciate BookSneeze for providing me with a free copy of this novel and the opportunity to review it.