Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Forever Friday

Author: Timothy Lewis
Pages: 288

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah publisher in exchange for an honest review.

From the back cover:

Every Friday, a postcard.
Every Friday, a love poem.
Every Friday for sixty years.

Adam Colby is just doing his job, sorting through the unsold Alexander belongings after the estate sale. He is unprepared for what he finds in an old photo album, overlooked by the bargain hounds and treasure hunters—six decades of postcards and poems from Gabe Alexander to his wife, Pearl. The mystery of the Alexanders’ love entices Adam, a man unhinged by divorce and puzzled by the depth of commitment that he finds in the unabashedly romantic cards.

Forever Friday invites you to travel back in time to the early twentieth century Texas Coastal Bend where a young couple—Gabe and Pearl Alexander—are swept up in a miraculous love. As the heartwarming, pulse-quickening story of their relationship develops through Gabe’s poems, the Alexanders reveal a new way to consider what it means to be truly devoted to each other. Could the secrets of their love affair, laid to rest twenty years ago, hold the key to one man’s future?


The story was written in two different settings. One was when Gabe and Pearl’s relationship and their story set both in the past and in the present as Pearl (aka “Huck”) was in a nursing home and dying. The other was Adam’s story as he discovered the postcards and sought to learn the story behind them. I really liked that the story jumped back and forth because rather than a passive voice of Yvette telling their Gabe and Huck’s story, it allowed you to experience their love story with them.

I loved the romance in the story and the way that Gabe was so intentional about keeping romance alive. He seemed to always be doing something sweet for Huck... He was very invested in their marriage. For a successful relationship both people have to be truly invested and "two hearts commanding love" like Gabe and Huck rather than “two hearts demanding love” like Adam and his ex-wife. They actively loved each other than were very intentional about it.

The point was made a few times in the book that part of the secret for a happy marriage was Gabe and Huck’s mutual faith in God and their constant hope for the future. This should have been the entire point of the book and while I think Timothy Lewis might have understood that this was the secret to a happy marriage, he got caught up in the romance of the story like so many of us tend to do in our own stories and our own lives. You can keep the romance alive; however, big romantic gestures are not the secret to a happy marriage. The secret to a happy marriage is a deep abiding faith in God that takes you through the hard times and a hope that a better day is coming. That faith and hope, sprinkled with big (or sometimes the small ones are best) romantic gestures keep true love alive.

I really enjoyed this book and enjoyed this story. I just think that Timothy Lewis failed to support with his story the whole point that he was trying to make. Regardless, I would read another book by this author and I would still recommend this book. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Distant Dreams

Distant Dreams (Ribbons of Steel, book 1)
Author:  Judith Pella and Tracie Peterson
419 pages

A lot of the books that I review I do in cooperation with a book review program administered by the book publisher. This book I downloaded to my Kindle and it is currently offered for free on I am under no obligation to review this book and this is my honest review.

From the back cover:

The year is 1835 and Carolina Adams finds herself enchanted by an unlikely suitor...the railroad. Frustrated by society's expectations upon her gender, she longs to study more masculine subjects and is thrilled when her father grants her a tutor.

James Baldwin arrives to serve as Carolina's teacher, but of more importance, he is to court Carolina's beautiful older sister, Virginia. Will expectations--and Virginia's southern charm--elicit the hoped-for proposal? Or will James and Carolina dare to acknowledge the mutual interests and feelings growing between them?

My Review:

I really disliked this book. I will usually read a novel to completion, but I seriously considered closing this book before I reached the conclusion and never re-opening it. I stopped this book part was through and read two other books before coming back to this one and then I only completed it out of stubbornness.

First, I will discuss the positive aspects of the book. I enjoyed the characters. I felt like they were well-developed and each had their own individual personality. I did, obviously, enjoy some characters more than others, but considering that I relate better to some people than others this is to be expected. Each character got the reaction from me that was intended – I didn’t like Virginia, I loved Carolina, Margaret I found difficult to connect with until she became personable, James was kind and caring and I fell in love with him myself, Joseph was kind and fatherly, etc. Great care was taken to give each character a personality unique to them.

I enjoyed the historical parts of the book. I feel like I learned a lot about the railroad and politics of the time. A lot of information was given regarding these things.

Now for the negatives…

This book was boring, boring, boring. It took WAY TOO LONG to get interesting and when it finally did, it still wasn’t gripping. At any point in time I could have walked away from this book never caring what happened to the characters. I suppose that could be considered a positive since nothing in the book ever resolved. I realize that this is the first in a series; however, the book ended without really tying up any loose ends, but it also ended in such a way that it left me with no desire to read it’s sequels. A good book, especially one with a sequel must end in such a way that you feel that your time spent reading it was worth it and are satisfied and yet there are just enough loose ends to make you really really curious about what happened next. A book should leave you longing for more because it’s just that good, not longing for more just so the story will have had a point.

I’ve heard wonderful things about Judith Pella and Tracie Peterson and I think I have read books by both of them previously. In fact, in the middle of reading this book I read one co-authored by Tracie Peterson and loved it. I was very disappointed that this book turned out better. If the sequel is ever offered for free on Amazon I’ll probably download and at least start reading it, but I wouldn’t pay a dime for it.

All Things Hidden

Title: All Things Hidden
Author(s): Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse
352 pages

*I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.*

From the back cover:

Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse Team Up to Deliver a Stunning Depression-Era Drama

Gwyn Hillerman loves being a nurse at her father's clinic on the beautiful Alaskan frontier. But family life has been rough ever since her mother left them, disdaining the uncivilized country and taking Gwyn's younger sister with her.

In Chicago, Dr. Jeremiah Vaughan finds his life suddenly turned upside down when his medical license is stripped away after an affluent patient dies. In a snowball effect, his fiance breaks their engagement. In an attempt to bury the past, Jeremiah accepts Dr. Hillerman's invitation to join his growing practice in the isolated Alaska Territory.

Gwyn and Jeremiah soon recognize a growing attraction to each other. But when rumors of Jeremiah's past begin to surface, they'll need more than love to face the threat of an uncertain future.

My Review

I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were realistic and relatable. Gwyn struggled with feelings of abandonment and worry and fear of change and the future. Jeremiah had some baggage and the guilt that came with it that followed him to Alaska. The romance that unfolded between them wasn’t overly sentimental or superficial, but instead I found it to be fairly realistic.

The book was a historical fiction. The historical aspects of it were interesting and the characters really aided in carrying the historical part of the story along without the history being lost in the romance. There was also an element of suspense in the story that kept you on your toes a little.

All Things Hidden addressed the issue of worry and putting your faith in God to provide for all of your needs.

I struggled at first to figure out where one part of the story ended and another began; however, my ebook version had a few other issues and I feel quite certain that this had more to do with that than the writing itself. For some reason words that had f’s in the middle of them (different, sufficient, office, etc) were printed without the f’s and often without a following “i”, making it necessary to decipher some of the words. For example: Different became “dierent” and office was always “oce”. It seemed like there may have been headers introducing a setting change/ story change due to a few capital letters here and there which could have been for that purpose, but I am assuming this was an actual phrase or sentence and not just a letter or two. Like I said, I think the problem was more with the ebook edition and some problems there than with the writing itself.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I highly recommend it. You can pre-order the Kindle Edition at Amazon. It will be released on January 7, 2014.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Emma of Aurora: The Complete Change and Cherish Trilogy: A Clearing in the Wild, A Tendering in the Storm, A Mending at the Edge

Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Pages: 1170

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Pulbishers as part of their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

In a time and culture where women were subservient and seen rather than heard, Emma was fiercely independent, outspoken, and opinionated. Growing up in the German communal-living colony of Bethel, Missouri under the almost autocratic leadership of Wilhelm Keil, Emma was often at odds with the way things were done. The community practiced the Diamond Rule: To make someone else’s life better than your own. Though in her youth Emma’s independence and strong-will made her do some selfish things, as she grew and matured and struggled through life’s difficulties she learned to lean on those around her and became a very generous woman.

The trilogy follows Emma Wagner Geisy from her teenage years until she was in her late 30s. It is a fictional story based on a real person. Many of the larger details that carry the story along are factual.

Throughout her life, Emma experienced adventure, love, hardship, and loss. The books take us through her journey as she goes from being fiercely independent to being dependent on the people around her and happy to be. Emma grows so much as a person and as a Christian. Life softens her rough edges, as it has a tendency of doing.

I enjoyed reading this book. I could relate to Emma and her independent streak and strong will. Emma’s independence and strong was both an asset and a liability as it led her to both good decisions and bad.

When you’re as strong-willed as Emma was and I am, life isn’t always easy. You tend to learn things the hard way and through being broken and remolded, eventually you become more pliable in the hands of God. At least that’s what happened with Emma, and I hope will happen with me. Over time Emma learned to depend on God and others and trust them more.

I liked the characters in this book. They were very well-developed and each had their own individual quirks about them that made it easy to keep them separate. The story was gripping in a way that you didn’t always like it, but also couldn’t put it down.

I would recommend this book.