Book Review: The Corruptible

Title: The Corruptible (A Ray Quinn Mystery)
Author: Mark Mynheir
Publisher’s Syopsis:  How much money would it take for you to betray the truth?

Ex-homicide detective Ray Quinn never had glamorous thoughts of the life of a private investigator—but being cornered in a bathroom stall by the enraged philandering husband of a client? That’s something he could live without. Retired from homicide and living with a painful disability, Ray’s options are limited. Stick to the job, keep impetuous sidekick Crevis alive, and spend quiet evenings with trusted pal Jim Beam, that’s about the best he can hope for.

As a new client emerges, Ray finds himself in an impossibly large boardroom holding a check with enough zeros to finally lift him from his financial pit. The job seems easy enough: find Logan Ramsey, an ex-cop turned security officer who’s taken off with sensitive corporate information. But few things are easy in Ray’s world, regardless of the amount of zeros in the check.

In what should be an open-and-shut case, Ray stumbles across Logan Ramsey in a seedy motel room. Only Ray wasn’t the first to find him. Now Logan’s dead, the client’s information is nowhere to be found, and Ray’s employer is less than forthcoming with the details. Suddenly the line between the good guys and bad guys isn’t so clear. With a foot in both worlds and an illuminating look at an unhappy ending that could well be his own, which will Ray choose?

I was introduced to Mark Mynheir via the Blogging for Books program when they sent me The Night Watchman.  I loved it.  So, when I got an advanced reading copy of The Corruptible, I was ecstatic.  I expect it to be amazing.  What?  Expect?  Chautona, what’s the deal here?  You mean, you’re posting a book review for a book you haven’t read?  Are you nuts?

Why yes, yes I am.

I’m heading to my husband’s post-implant exam today and am reading the book on the 180 mile round trip.  I’ll update this post when I get home with how much I loved it.  Hey, I’m an optimist.

And, to prove my Pollyanna-like attitude, remember, the book isn’t released until next Tuesday, so you can’t dash over to your local bookstore and buy it today anyway!  See… I’m really being quite thoughtful.  Just sayin’.

I’ll be back with my thoughts sometime tonight.

*** BACK***

A part of me wants to say, “Just go order it right now” and leave that as my review, but I suppose that’s not fair.  This book wasn’t a disappointment.  So many second books are a little disappointing, but this one, if anything, is better than the first.  I was drawn in immediately and had a hard time not being rude and ignoring my husband as I read it.  Mark Mynheir has an incredible talent for writing.  His books are perfectly edited, but not so narrowly that they are dry and read like a laundry list.  However, unlike most books written in the first person, his books are so tight that I actually missed the fact that it was first person until several chapters in– again.

The character, Ray Quinn, can drop a line so perfectly that you can hear it.  These books read like a good movie.  You can feel the tension, see the colors, smell everything from the humidity to the stale pizza; you can live the story with the characters.  His characterization is perfect, the plot is solid, and thankfully, the twist isn’t uber predictable.  He got me on one part.  That’s hard to do.  I think I might have figured it out faster if I had read it in one sitting, but maybe not.  It’s just that good.

Buy it.  Just buy it.  I love the book so much that I’m not giving it away.  It’s going up on the shelf right next to The Night Watchman and waiting for another one to join it.  Five stars.  Period.

This book was provided to me by Multnomah for review– my opinions are biased only by the quality of the story.

If you wouldn’t mind, I’d really appreciate it if you dashed on over to Multnomah and ranked my review. I’m still angling for Josh Harris’ new book…

Advertisements

Book Review: The Ale Boy’s Feast

Title: The Ale Boy’s Feast
Series: The Auralia Thread
Author: Jeffrey Overstreet
Publisher’s Synopsis: The king is missing.  His people are trapped as the woods turn deadly.  Underground, the boy called Rescue has found an escape.
Hopes are failing across The Expanse. The forests, once beautiful, are now haunted and bloodthirsty. House Abascar’s persecuted people risk their lives to journey through those predatory trees. They seek a mythic city – Abascar’s last, best hope for refuge – where they might find the source of Auralia’s colors.
They journey without their king. During a calamitous attempt to rescue some of his subjects from slavery, Cal-raven vanished.
But his helper, the ale boy, falling through a crack in the earth, has discovered a slender thread of hope in the dark. He will dare to lead a desperate company up the secret river.
Meanwhile, with a dragon’s help, the wandering mage Scharr ben Fray is uncovering history’s biggest lie – a deception that only a miracle can repair.
Time is running out for all those entangled in The Auralia Thread. But hope and miracles flicker wherever Auralia’s colors are found.

I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity of reviewing the previous book in the Auralia Thread, Raven’s Ladder.  That book introduced me to Mr. Overstreet’s work, and I loved it.  As with much of great fantasy, the book is a journey– both a physical and a personal one for many of the characters.  In my review of Raven’s Ladder, I said that if you enjoyed books such as the Ranger’s Apprentice, Lord of the Rings, or even Andrew Peterson’s books, you’d enjoy these.  I stand by that.  In here, more so than that last one it seems, the symbolism found in good fantasy is there.  Good vs. evil, friends vs. foes and in this, sometimes those are not as clear cut as you might have thought.

Again, I loved Mr. Overstreet’s rich characterization.  What I seemed to notice in this book that either wasn’t in or was harder to appreciate in the last (since I read the third in a series first) was his uniquely lyrical writing.  He isn’t flowery or verbose in his writing, and yet there is a definite poetic-ness to it.  I need to read the entire series together to see if he has just expanded himself in this book or if I missed it in my previous reading.

Mr. Overstreet tells a fabulous tale in vivid detail almost as if you are viewing it on the page– much as books written long ago did- and yet unlike some of those older stories, his are not tedious to read.  You feel the despair and then the hope as things go all wrong and somehow are righted even when it seemed impossible.

I know these books were written as “children’s stories,” but it is my opinion that they are excellent books for any age.  If you have not read the first books, don’t read this one.  Wait until you’ve read the first books.  Even though I’d read the third (I have the others but haven’t had time to read them), there were still parts that were hard to wade through, and I’m certain that it is due to needing a refresher course in all that has happened.  Don’t let that discourage you.  Buy the books– they’re worth it.  And if you can’t afford them, get them from the library.  You won’t regret it.

I want to thank Water Brook for providing this copy of The Ale Boy’s Feast for review.  My opinions, for what they are worth, do not do the book justice.  Sorry, I’m not giving this one away.  That should tell you something about how much I enjoy this man’s writing AND his stories.  Oh, and Jenna would kill me.

Even though I’m not giving a copy of this one away, I would really appreciate if you’d take a moment and hop on over to Water Brook and rank my review.  I’m finding the selection getting slim again.  I really want a chance at Josh Harris’ new book!  Oh, and stay tuned for next week.  I think I’ll be able to review The Runner from Ravenshead movie!  I will also be giving away a copy of that movie… on my own dime!  Stay tuned… no pun intended of course.

Book Review: The Complete Guide to Getting…. *Winner announced*

Title:  The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized
Subtitle: *Manage Your Time *Eliminate Clutter and Experience Order *Keep Your Family First
Author: Karen Ehman
Publisher’s Synopsis: The key to good organization is not a one–size–fits–all method. It is a unique plan that considers personality type, lifestyle, income level, and family schedule. Author and speaker, Karen Ehman believes that with her simple step by step process moms can recognize their own personal style of managing their households successfully and develop a unique plan that gives them the freedom to:

  • manage their time wisely
  • de–clutter and organize their homes
  • plan menus, shop more efficiently, and become more comfortable and creative in the kitchen
  • get children involved in pursuing an ordered life and home
  • avoid the trap of overcommitment
  • use practical tools to assist in organization

Getting and staying organized means more time for the important things in family life—concentrating on cultivating a close, personal relationship with the Creator, drawing His word into every aspect of living, and ultimately tying their children’s heartstrings to God.

Every December (that I remember anyway), I go over to LibraryThing.com and sign up for their SantaThing.  This is just a fun gift exchange thing that involves books.   This year, they used Bookdepository.com and due to snowy conditions, the big pond, extra screening in the US thanks to an irritating little pipsqueak of a terrorist, and US weather, I didn’t get mine until almost February!  (or was it after?  I don’t remember.  It’s a blur.)  This was one of the books I received (along with Stephen King’s On Writing and a Kathy Herman novel that, unfortunately, I own).

Ok, now I’ve read more organization books than anyone should be allowed to read.  Let’s face it, most of them say the same things.  Get rid of clutter, put like things together, and put it back when you’re done with it.  My favorite advice I’ve ever read was, “If you have to choose between easy to get out or easy to put away, always choose easy to put away.”  YES!  So, I wasn’t sure what I’d find with this book.

First, the book is a casual fun read.  There aren’t a lot of lofty ideals that people with real lives couldn’t make work.  She has worksheets to help work through the ideas she presents.  She’s honest.  The book isn’t going to do the work for you, and she doesn’t pretend that it will.  A fun addition are the little notes from her daughter about helping kids organize and getting the kid’s perspective on it all.

There are room by room lists of things to consider when organizing, and even little blurbs by others giving little hints of what works for them in certain areas.  I enjoyed the personal anecdotes and related stories throughout the book.  It is always fun to get a glimpse of life in someone else’s family.

She moved from room by room organization to things like commitments, time wasters, conquering paper, and the always obnoxious meal planning and shopping.  And of course, she ends with a chapter on how to maintain now that your home is in order again.

Did I like it?  Sure!  I love books on organization.  Was there anything in there that I’ve never heard of?  Not really.  However, the relaxed way she writes, the encouragement she gives to “get in there and get it done,” and the way the book is laid out as a step-by-step process makes it a great choice if you’re ready to tackle your home.  Frankly, I think Kaye from my Confessions of a Decluttering Junkie needed this book.  She could have followed step-by-step, saved a lot of money, and she might have learned a lesson or three about not exasperating your family in the process.  My biggest recommendation for this book would be for people who know they need to do it but feel overwhelmed with where to start.  This book will walk you, without shoving you head first, through the steps to getting your home back under control.

So, as proof that I do learn from all these crazy books I read, I’m going to pass this book onto a reader.  Just post a comment and let me know what area in your home makes you most desperate for change. Congratulations, Vanessa!


An Interview with Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson is the author of the book I’m reviewing this week, Vanishing Act.  She kindly allowed me to ask her a few interview questions for my readers!  I just want to thank her for that now.  Stay tuned for the book review!

1.  What first inspired you to write?  (Original question, I know.  Snort)

I don’t know that there’s any one thing that first inspired me to write. I’ve just always loved telling stories. I do believe that God has given me a passion and talent for writing, and it’s important to me to keep using it.

2.  How/where did you get the idea for Vanishing Act?

Vanishing Act really began with a character, Nate Andersen, who had a small role in my first book, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn. He really caught my attention, and I was so excited about telling his story. But it wasn’t until I pulled out an old story that I’d written in college, that I found the whole story about a girl on the run and a man intent on protecting her.

3.  Who is your favorite character in the book?  Why?

Hmmm … I guess Nate is my favorite. I love how he deals with the sins of his family. I mean, it’s horrible that he’s dealing with that, but his desire to be a man of integrity is so strong that I can’t help but love him.

4.  When will your next book be published?

My next book, Code of Justice, is scheduled to release in March 2011. Of course, that’s if I can finish the line edits on time. 🙂

5.  Do you work on one book at a time or several like me?

I typically do one book at a time. When I’m not on deadline, sometimes I’ll play around with a few different stories, but if I have to keep a schedule, I focus on whatever’s due first. If I try to write more than one at a time I get confused and sidetracked.

6.  What is the most rewarding part of writing?

The most rewarding part of writing is definitely seeing the finished manuscript. Even before it’s made into a book, just typing THE END makes me feel great! It’s such a feeling of accomplishment and pride in a job well done. Of course, seeing the final product in bookstores is never bad either.

7.  What is the least enjoyable part of writing?

The least is definitely the start of the book. Sometimes it feels like torture just to get myself in front of my computer and actual writing. But that feeling passes.

8.  What genre do you enjoy reading that you’d never want to write?

I don’t know. I’d hate to say that I’d never want to write any genre. I read all sorts, and I write all sorts like YA, contemporary romance, historical, and I even have an idea for a futuristic dystopian society book. But I think it’s fair to say that if I were going to write a very literary novel, I probably wouldn’t be as good at it as other genres that I’ve tried.

9.  Do you control your characters or do they dictate parts or all of the story?

I certainly control the outcome of the story. I know where we’re going, once we start. But there have been several times when a character is doing something out of character and demands a change.

10.  What advice would you give aspiring/struggling authors?

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve been learning this year and want to pass along is to have FUN! Yes, writing is a business. Yes, it requires a lot of work. But if you focus only on those things, you miss out on the pure joy of writing something that you love reading. So write what you want to read. Write what makes you smile.

Book Review: Vanishing Act

Book: Vanishing Act

Author: Liz Johnson

Publisher’s Synopsis: Eighteen months ago, Nora James watched as her father was shot in an alley—and then she fl ed. She changed her name, her appearance and her job, hoping to keep her father’s shooter at bay. For months, it worked…but now her luck has run out. A ruthless assassin is on her trail, and soon Nora, now known as Danielle, will be found. But this time, she has FBI agent Nate Andersen by her side—right? The handsome agent would give his life to protect Danielle, but he’s wary of giving his heart…until a deadly confrontation leaves him with both on the line.

I’ll confess, when I read the back of this book, I expected to be able to predict the plot, the twists, and the outcome.  While I did peg the “bad guy” almost immediately, I did not figure out the rest.  That alone gives this book a thumbs up.  That leaves one more thumb to go, right?  Well, how about the fact that the characters are interesting, the plot is engaging and the spiritual encouragement is right on the nose for the primary area that the women I know usually talk about?  What is it?  Fear.  This book is a mini gold-mine of reminders that our fears are not bigger than the God who can conquer them for us and through us.

Yes, the book is a romance.  Thankfully, Liz Johnson isn’t so sappy that I gag reading her– sappier than I usually am, but then so are most writers.  The main characters have a relationship that gets intense a little early, but considering the situation, their personalities, and their personal issues, it makes sense.  It fits.  And, once the book was over, I realized that it takes place over a longer period of time than I’d realized as I read it.  Hey, sometimes I just get lost in a story and miss little details like how many days or weeks have passed.  Sue me.

And, isn’t that the point of a book?  To get lost in the story?  Isn’t that what makes a good book?  So, for that I give the book my other thumbs up.  Both thumbs waggle in the air cheerfully.  This book is a great read, nice and suspenseful, but light enough that it never feels like a chore to keep your mind on the plot.  That says everything.

I apologize.  I usually give away the books I review, but this book is mine.  Ms. Johnson kindly signed it to me and it’s going right next to another book of hers on my shelf.  I’ll read it again…  That should also say a lot.  So, go zip over to Amazon, snag you a copy of this nice inexpensive book, wait impatiently for the UPS truck, grab your beverage of choice (I recommend Coke), find a bag of Reese’s Pieces somewhere, and curl up in your favorite reading spot.  It might not hurt to throw something in the crockpot first.  I guarantee you’re not going to want to put it down to go make dinner.

Book Review: The Last Christian ** Win a Copy!**

ATTENTION:  I found this review in my drafts folder.  This blog tour is a good month or two old now (the emails are on my old computer).  However, I felt obligated to post it now anyway and to offer my apologies to WaterBrook for my error.

Title: The Last Christian

Author: David Gregory

Publisher’s Synopsis: In the future, it’s possible to live forever—but at what cost?

A.D. 2088.

Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village. Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out. A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter how insurmountable the odds.

But a larger threat looms. The world’s leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form. Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether—but at what expense?

As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than nurturing the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father’s unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals. Hanging in the balance—the spiritual future of all humanity.

In this fast-paced thriller, startling near-future science collides with thought-provoking religious themes to create a spell-binding “what-if?” novel.

I must confess, I had trouble with this book at first.  After a confusing start, it became interesting, and then collapsed into a bit of confusing.  Part of the trouble was that there were several plots, happening all at once, and so it was like starting to read four or five books at exactly the same time.  Read part of a chapter of one, skip to the next, and then to the next, and so forth.  Because of that, I almost didn’t continue the story.  A part of me just wanted to be done, but once the stories began to converge in tangible ways, it wasn’t work to read the story, and then by about half-way through, I was engrossed.

The fascinating part of this futuristic novel is how similar some parts are to my own novel I wrote last year, Volition, and how other parts are so drastically different.  At first, I became concerned that mine would be too similar in some of the reality issues, but fortunately most is not so I doubt anyone but me would see any similarities.

I really can’t explain the story without giving away plots.  There were parts I loved, other parts I hated, and as much as I hate it, the ending was absolutely perfect.  The message of the book, however, is the key.  I really think that every Christian in America needs to read this novel.  Its message is powerful and simple.  The Christian life isn’t something you live.  The Christian life is what Jesus lives through you.  It sounds like the same thing, but as this book so brilliantly demonstrates, they are not.

Read the book.  If you don’t win it from my blog, go to amazon.com, to your local store, or to the library and get the book.  Wade through the beginning… I bet most people didn’t have the trouble I did, but even if they did, it’s worth it, and read the book.  Compare what the author teaches through the story with scripture.  Be a Berean.  I promise you, you will not be disappointed.  Well, unless you want a Pharisaical life filled with human attempts to live a life that only Jesus can do for you.

I have two copies generously provided by Multnomah/WaterBrook.  I am giving away both copies.  Simply leave a comment and tell me why you think we tend to grasp the Christian walk is something we do rather than something Christ does through us.

Book Review: The Bridgrooms

Title: The Bridegrooms

Author: Allison Pittman

Publisher’s Synopsis: It Only Takes an Instant for Love to Strike

Tragedy hits the Allenhouse family on a hot summer night in Ohio when a mother of four vanished. Eight-year-old Vada virtually grew up overnight and raised her three younger sisters while her father lost himself in his medical practice in the basement of their home.

Now, Vada is a grown woman, still making her home with her father and sisters. Her days are spent serving as an errand girl for Cleveland’s fledgling amateur orchestra; her evenings with Garrison Walker, her devoted, if passionless, beau.

Dizzying change occurs the day the Brooklyn Bridegrooms come to town to play the Cleveland Spiders and a line drive wallops the head of a spectator. The fan is whisked to the Allenhouse parlor, and questions swirl about the anonymous, unconscious man.

Suddenly, the subdued house is filled with visitors, from a flirtatious, would-be sports writer to the Bridegrooms’ handsome star hitter to the guilt-ridden ballplayer who should have caught the stray shot. The medical case brings Dr. Allenhouse a frustration and helplessness he hasn’t felt since his wife’s disappearance. Vada’s sisters are giddy at the bevy of possible suitors. And Vada’s life is awakened amid the super-charged atmosphere of romantic opportunity.

This book was not at all what I pictured.  I imagined the American version of “bonnet drama”– the wide open prairies, bonnets, and mail order brides.  I avoided reading it for a while.  I looked at it.  I didn’t even bother to read the back.  I wanted to read it… but I dreaded the review that would follow if I didn’t like it.  Enter, this afternoon.  I was tired, didn’t feel well, and after making half a card before crashing, I decided to take the book and go to bed.  I read it.

Now, maybe it was just the perfect day to read the story, but I liked it.  There was so much depth to each character.  That is always a difficult thing to achieve when there is a large supporting cast of characters.  If you give them too much attention, you take away from the soul of the book and leave the reader floundering from person to person.  If you don’t give them enough attention, the book falls flat.  This book tugs you in, fills you up, and leaves you smiling at the end.  There were times during the story that I wanted to slap every single character in it.  It ended quite satisfactorily, which is a feat in and of itself.

This is one of those rare books that has a very deep undertone.  On the surface, it’s just a light fluffy story for a balmy spring afternoon.  However, if you immerse yourself in it, there are deep and amazing spiritual truths played out before your eyes.  Be careful… they could just change your life.  I know in a tangible way, this book changed mine.

So, obviously I recommend it.

Furthermore, I have two copies to give away thanks to the generosity of Multnomah who provided it for review.

So, if you’d like to win a copy, just post and tell me if any novel has made a significant impact on your life!  I’ll draw soon.  I’m needing to get stuff out of the house!

Book Review: An Absence So Great ** WIN A FREE COPY**

Title: An Absence So Great

Author: Jane Kirkpatrick

Publisher’s Synopsis: Did photography replace an absence in her life or expose the truth of her heart’s emptiness?

While growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those owners who have fallen ill with mercury poisoning.

Jessie gains footing in her dream to one day operate her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep painful memories from seeping into her heart when the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.

Oh, my word.  I’ve loved Jane Kirkpatrick’s books since I read All Together In One Place.  GREAT book.  This is another amazing story.  Jane Kirkpatrick has a beautiful ability to take a true story and fictionalize it.  She writes about real people with real problems and weaknesses.  It seems as though she’s drawn to independent women who make unusual choices in their lives, and An Absence So Great is no different.

The book begins with a photograph, a slight vignette about why that picture was taken, the story surrounding it, and it seems to set the tone for the next chapter/section.  The heroine, Jessie, is torn between wanting what is wrong to desire and knowing that her heart desires it anyway.  I love how each person in the book is shown with all their faults, strengths, weaknesses, and glory moments.  You pity Mrs. Baur, despise her, and see how similar she is to her husband… even though she sees herself so far above him.  Jessie is so strong and fiercely independent.  Her parents see her as rejecting their upbringing, but really, she makes decisions, almost every chapter, that show how committed she is to the same values.

Sin isn’t glorified in this book, but neither is it preached about.  It’s confronted, for what it is, and the reader is left to determine where it fits in the scheme of Scripture.  It takes talent to do that without leaving the reader with the impression that the author condones it.

On the negative scale, there were places the story truly stalled.  I had to go back and reread sections to understand where she was trying to take the story.  It certainly isn’t a story killer, but it was frustrating.

Do I recommend it?  Without question.  I love reading these fictionalized true stories by Ms. Kirkpatrick. I feel obligated to point out that things happen in this book that aren’t what we’d always like to see in Christian fiction.  Without giving away the plot, things that I believe are wrong and very damaging to families happen as a matter of course.  However, this is biographical fiction.  This is the actual story of Ms. Kirkpatrick’s grandmother and her life.  She can only write what happened in that case.  She can’t whitewash what happened to make it fit into the neat boxes that Christian fiction usually confines their heroes and heroines in.

I’d like to thank Water Brook for providing me with this copy to review.  You can win this copy by posting a comment.  Please tell me how old your favorite picture is!

And, as always, please be sure to read my Giveaways disclaimer if you haven’t read it in the past or as a refresher!

Book Review: **Win a FREE Copy**

Title: Here Burns My Candle

Author: Liz Curtis Higgs

Publisher’s Synopsis: A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

Historical fiction has never been my favorite genre, but I do like Liz Curtis Higgs and I am always interested in the Scots and Scotland (it’s that heritage thing).  Furthermore, I am a huge fan of Bonnie Prince Charlie!  So, I was eager to read this book.  However, I was really busy this week with the whole finishing up Aggie fiasco and felt pulled.  So, my friend Christy (who loves historical fiction and Liz Curtis Higgs– we’re identical opposites that way) volunteered to read it for me and give me her .02.

Pros:  The book is marvelously well-researched.  Full of rich details regarding life, clothing, mannerisms, and of course, my favorite… DRESS, the reader will not be disappointed with the setting of this book at all.  Next, and possibly more importantly, the characters are well-developed.  There is nothing more frustrating than reading a book about a character you don’t feel you “know” when you think you should (This is, of course, not applicable to characters that are supposed to be a bit ambiguous or unreachable for whatever reason the author deems necessary).  In Here Burns My Candle, you love the characters you’re supposed to love, and despise the ones who deserve it.  I love that in a book.

One scene in particular is excellent.  The dragoons (king’s men) arrive just as the Elisabeth is helping wounded Jacobites– excellent scene.

Cons:  The book is slow.  This is one drawback for most historical fiction for me.  You have to spend so much time setting the scene and making the reader familiar with the surroundings that you lose their interest.  I wonder why fantasy isn’t that way more often (I’ve seen it, but not as often).  I mean, with that you’re also setting a scene.  Perhaps historical fiction writers could learn something from fantasy writers.  I wonder.  Anyway, it takes a good hundred and fifty pages for it to develop into anything significantly interesting.  That’s a little blechy .  Even then, once the plot is interesting, it is still somewhat slow because most of the action takes place away from the main character.

So, if you’re into action-packed books that you soar through before you know it, the book might not be for you.  Race car readers are likely to be frustrated.  However, if you like to walk your books, take your time, enjoy the scenery, pause and reflect before moving onto the next scene… Here Burns My Candle might be the perfect book for you.

I want to thank Water Brook for providing this copy for review and for the give away copy!  Yes indeedy, there’s one to be had.  Just post a comment and let me know how much you know about Bonnie Prince Charlie and you might just win one for your home library!

We Have a Winner *** Mother Daughter Duet***

Well, on this one, we have two winners!  First was number 3.  Kathryn!  You win again.  AND… you save me postage.  Geee, what a pal!

I’ll be popping this in with your other book as soon as I have an address for you.

However, we’re not done, as you all well know.  I mean, seriously, we can’t give away just one book when I have two soooooooooo

And Carol!  Yippie Skippie!  You’ve won yourself a copy!  I’ll be popping that in the mail for you if I can find your address.  Want it faster?  Email me.  Just sayin’!

Off to draw for more!

Please read (if you haven’t before) my “Giveaways Policy.”

Book Review: Deep Harbor ** Win Copy**

Title: Deep Harbor

Series: Northern Lights Series

Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren

Publisher’s Synopsis: As they build new lives in America, Tora, Elsa, Kaatje, and Karl each experience a personal tragedy that threatens to destroy everything they left Norway to find. Tora’s web of lies has cost her a successful future with the man she loves. When tragedy strikes, Elsa must draw upon her faith and the strength she can muster to discover who she is and the path she must follow. After her husband’s disappearance, Kaatje struggles to raise two young daughters and tend her farm, and Karl finds himself caught in a life of loneliness and emptiness. Only by placing their trust in God—and in each other—will they pass through these rough waters and find the safety of the harbor.

From the richly forested banks of the Washington Territory to the burgeoning city of Yokohama and across the turbulent, danger-filled waves of the open sea—experience the epic saga of perseverance, pain, faith, and calling in the Northern Lights series.

Well, I confess.  I didn’t think I was going to like reviewing this book when I discovered it is the sequel to the book The Captain’s Bride, but fortunately, and unlike me, Ms. Bergren knows how to write a continuing story that can stand alone.  I was suitable captivated by the Norwegian women.  After all, if they were real, they could have been my children’s ancestors.

While Historical Fiction is not my favorite genre, Ms. Bergren did an excellent job creating a tale that grabbed and then held my interest.  I love her flawed but endearing characters.  Too often, authors seem to give their characters token faults, but these women, as admirable as they are, had serious character flaws that made them believable and helped the reader grow sympathetic.

There were a couple of minor historical errors… I THINK… I haven’t looked them up so I won’t say what, but they were minor and honestly, if I didn’t have parents that were closet etymologists, I doubt I would have noticed one of them.  So, I really don’t have much complaint at all with the book, but I can recommend it and do.  I think one of the nicest things about this book is the ability to disappear into a different place and part of history.  Instead of Victorian England or  the American Prairies, this book takes you onto the open sea with people from a place not often found in Christian fiction– Norway.

I want to thank Waterbrook for providing this copy for review.  I would also like to share the bounty and offer a chance for someone else to enjoy it!  So to enter, simply post a comment and tell me what part of history or place in history you’ve never read fiction about and would like to OR that is where/when your favorite book is situated.